Chris Nelson is just the best in town when it comes to fine-tuning the importance of good rumors.
Below is an excerpt from his 7 April Nelson Report:
Nasty gossip. . .always more fun than plain old gossip. . .there are indications that the Senate committee vote on confirming John Bolton for the UN may be more difficult than the White House (specifically VP Cheney’s office) had hoped. Foreign Affairs chair Richard Lugar is known to be distinctly uncomfortable with Bolton, and Ranking Dem Joe Biden is actively opposing.
GOP Presidential hopeful Chuck Hagel is known to be considering the implications of new information he’s been given, and therefore his initial strong endorsement may also be up for grabs. Opponents are amusing themselves by noting that Bolton’s old boss, former Sec. State Colin Powell, has pointedly refused to endorse him, and they quote the well-known, if private complaints by Sec. Rice about BoltonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s “disloyalty” to Powell, and the President’s negotiating agenda with N. Korea.
The “news” today includes that committee member Rhode Island Republican Lincoln Chafee is thinking about voting “no”, although his office is being carefully coy, for obvious reasons. Flustered Bolton supporters are countering with threats to run a “true conservative” against Chafee in the GOP primary. Apparently they haven’t noticed that Chafee would fit quite nicely into the Democratic Party, and that Rhode Islanders would almost certainly reelect him, regardless.
Chafee may be helped along his Bolton opposition road by word that his Democratic opponent, RI Atty. Gen. Sheldon Whitehouse, is considering a demand that Chafee vote “no”. Closer to home, and to the bone, comes word that former State Dept official Carl Ford may be prepared to testify that Bolton had his staff monkey with intelligence, in addition to blocking opponents from attending meetings within State while Ford ran INR.
Ford’s personal and professional rep in Washington is impeccable, and any such testimony by him could be devastating, especially for the likes of Hagel and Lugar, observers predict.
Finally, it may be that Bolton’s plan to turn over the consolidated non-proliferation Assist. Secretary slot to protege Steve Rademaker may be undone by his successor, and presumed ally, former NSC non-proliferation boss Bob Joseph. Word is that Undersecretary-nominee Joseph wants to bring over his guy for A/S, NSC staffer Will Tobey.
For those trying to follow the reorganization, both Powell and Rice approved combining the non-proliferation and arms control bureaus, so that, at least, is not seen as “payback” by Bolton for all those softies he constantly battled.
Note that Chris Nelson suggests that Hagel may be studying the “totality of concerns” on Bolton and potentially reconsidering his support. I reported this some time ago after UPI Correspondent Christian Bourge confronted Senator Hagel with the “Waxman File” on Bolton after Hagel’s effusive support of John Bolton was offered.
Hagel then said that Bolton would have to respond and that all matters would have to be considered in their entirety.
These are rumors, nuances, possibilities — but what is very clear is that a lot is breaking against John Bolton’s candidacy.
— Steve Clemons