John Bolton: Very High Profile Now and That’s the Problem


I just read a very long but interesting piece on the blog, Obsidian Wings, about John Bolton. It’s a cluster blog, with some on the right and others on the left. One of the writers, “hilzoy,” caught most of the major reasons to oppose Bolton, and I want to link to her post.
The last grafs read:

My best guess, for what it’s worth, is the following. John Bolton was, by all accounts, Dick Cheney’s guy in the State Department, and he spent his time there working at cross purposes with the rest of the State Department. Condoleeza Rice, I suspect, did not want to have him around wreaking havoc, and since, unlike Colin Powell, she is close to the President, she got her way. But he had to be sent somewhere, and given some more or less prestigious job; thus the UN ambassadorship.
I have also read that some people in the administration believe that there will be a conflict in the UN about Iran in a few months, and they want Bolton there to knock heads. In any case, he gives new meaning to the phrase “wrong man for the job”, and in my view the Committee on Foreign Relations would do us all an immense favor by voting him down.

What is interesting in this debate about Bolton is that the White House and many members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — both Republicans and Democrats — thought that this would be a less controversial appointment than Negroponte or some others. Bolton is an inside-the-beltway kind of guy without much name recognition or visibility outside of his various nuclear non-proliferation and WMD-watch portfolios.
But he’s become a very well-known figure now, not for his achievements in the arms control arena but for his thuggery against State Department colleagues and his recklessness in sabotaging some elements of Bush administration foreign policy.
Lincoln Chafee who seemed to be counting on the ignorance of his constituents regarding John Bolton needs to reconsider this assumption. Furthermore, if Chafee thinks other on the Republican side are considering breaking ranks — the worst move for Chafee is to stay in the pro-Bolton camp, the second worst move is to follow another Senator who changes his or her mind, and the best move is to “lead” as several senators switch positions.
More to come.
— Steve Clemons