Vice President Cheney does the nation a real disservice by confusing “serial abuse” with what he calls occasional toughness and abrasiveness in the John Bolton case. This reminds me of the old days when America’s social leaders minimized the seriousness of spousal abuse or widespread but rarely discussed rape, in which the victim was often the one blamed.
Cheney was quoted as saying: “If being occasionally tough and aggressive and abrasive were a problem, there are a lot of members of the United States Senate who wouldn’t qualify.”
John Bolton lied about his actions to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He said that he never sought to have intelligence altered or generated in such a way to satisfy his needs. He said that he had “management issues” with Christian Westermann. He lied. Does this fall into the category of behaviors Vice President Cheney finds acceptable?
And what of the so-called victims of John Bolton? Do they deserve to be told that they are only some part of a “character assassination” effort by Democrats and discarded as trivial by the Vice President? Or do they deserve to be heard and supported?
Remember the case of Admiral Richard Macke? Then Commander of U.S. Pacific Forces, Macke stated that the three U.S. military servicemen who brutally raped a 12-year old girl in Okinawa, Japan should have just hired a prostitute. Macke was fired after appropriate public outrage.
The link between these cases is that the White House seems to think that certain kinds of abuse are fine — just part of the way the world works. Just to be clear, I am not stating that the White House would have been as callous as Macke about the plight of the rape victim in Okinawa, but I am saying that there are similarities in attitude when it comes to considering the power of an alleged abuser over the relatively weaker victim.
Cheney seems to have a real blind spot and seeming lack of concern for those whom Bolton victimized. My biggest concerns about Bolton are his recklessness with national security matters, his long list of failures as the nation’s leading proponent of non-proliferation efforts, and his tendency to deceive and lie to Congress. But there is no doubt now that he has serious behavioral problems that perhaps link to these other serious concerns.
Vice President Cheney had the same blind spot in the case of Robert Blackwill, and in that circumstance it was also Colin Powell and Richard Armitage that kept White House morality from taking a huge fall by allowing Blackwill to be rewarded after serious abuse charges had been lodged against him.
Rudy Giuliani didn’t see the many flaws in his friend Bernard Kerik. And the White House had to choke on Kerik’s nomination to serve as Secretary of Homeland Security. This time it is Dick Cheney who is blind on John Bolton — who no matter how loyal he was to the Bush-Cheney team — is now a serious and fundamental liability.
If Cheney forces otherwise unwilling Republican Senators to support Bolton, who may have a long record of abuse victims in his past, then Cheney will also be undermining the personal credibility of these Senators.
Cheney said that if a bit of abuse were the problem in this case, then many Senators would not qualify for the U.N. job as well. There are numerous Members of Congress who would make an outstanding Ambassador to the United Nations — and others who would be deplorable.
What matters is that we not take a “lowest common denominator” approach to this appointment, and that is what Cheney is doing by trying to ram Bolton through.
We need someone of impeccable credentials, and that is not John Bolton.
— Steve Clemons