President Bush should walk into the Oval Office on Monday morning and contact Bill Frist, Harry Reid, Dick Lugar, and Joe Biden. Then he should make a recess appointment to fill the UN Ambassador vacancy.
You’re probably wondering right now why in the world Steve would let me write for his blog in his absence.
Hold on, Steve, don’t pull the plug. I’m not suggesting that Bush send Bolton to Turtle Bay. I want him to appoint Anne Patterson so she can improve on the already stellar job she’s been doing. A recess appointment made in cooperation with the Senate – not against its will – is a recess appointment I can proudly support.
Now, if you’ve been listening to the daily proclamations of Scott McClellan, Condoleezza Rice, and the State Department press robots, you’ve been hearing a lot about the need for leadership at the UN Millennium Summit in September. Here’s McClellan’s daily nugget:
In terms of this position, there is a vacancy at the United Nations for our ambassador. We need our permanent representative in place at the United States at this critical time. There is an effort underway to move forward on comprehensive reform. We have outlined the comprehensive reforms that we want to see put in place to make sure that the United Nations is an effective multilateral organization. And it’s a critical time to be moving forward on this. The United Nations will be having their General Assembly meeting in September, and it’s important that we get our permanent representative in place.
If you’re just tuning in to the Bolton battle, you might think the Administration just woke up this morning and realized we need leadership at the United Nations. The truth is, the Bush team has squandered months by refusing documents to the Senate, and now they want the public to believe it’s a race against the clock to get a Permanent Representative in New York by September.
If this is a question of leadership at the UN as the Administration claims, Bolton is clearly not the answer. Even Bolton’s staunchest supporters have made strategic concessions about his poor leadership style, and Larry Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff and proprietor of a one-man Bolton complaint desk, made a point of calling him “a lousy leader.”
The fact is, we don’t have a leadership problem. We already have Anne Patterson in New York, fully prepped for the 21st century and doing a great job. “Damaged goods” Bolton wouldn’t bring additional leadership as a confirmed Ambassador; in fact, he’s far more likely to sink the ship, especially as a temporary (till 2007) Permanent Representative without the backing of the Senate.
A qualified U.S. Ambassador with the ear of the President and the trust of the Senate can go a long way toward advancing U.S. foreign policy priorities. I do question the sincerity of President Bush’s commitment to having a Permanent Representative, given he left the post open for 9 months – twice as long as the duration of the current impasse – when he took office. But even if we give him the benefit of the doubt, it’s pretty clear that Bolton isn’t the answer.
There’s one thing everyone can agree on: no nominee – not Patterson, not Bolton, nobody – can be confirmed in the Senate by September. On Monday, with the blessing of key Senators, he should announce Patterson’s appointment. She’d be well-prepared for the September Summit, she’d have the unofficial support of the Senate, and since she’d likely sail through to Senate confirmation in 2007, no one would see her as a lame duck.
Most importantly, Patterson would be a Permanent Representative that makes Americans proud, and America would be permanently rid of its Bolton problem.
— Scott Paul