The New York Times ran an important editorial this morning titled “The Worst of the Bad Nominees.”
I couldn’t agree more with the editors on this issue, and Democrats and moderate Republicans should be able to find the space to vote against the very, very worst selections and to use their authority in the confirmation process to encourage the President to re-think his decision and the message he is sending the world and our nation in proposing John Bolton.
The constituency in favor of Bolton is small and not tied to a massive number of voters, and those voters who have expressed support for Mr. Bolton are vigorous, passionate opponents of the United Nations itself. They watch the video of John Bolton at StopBolton.org and jump for joy that they have found their man to destroy the place.
Here is an excerpt from the Times editorial:
When a president picks his administration officials, the opposing political party can’t expect to be thrilled with the selections. Right now, Democrats in the Senate are trying to block the nominations of three men chosen by George W. Bush for important posts: John Bolton for United Nations ambassador, Stephen Johnson for head of the Environmental Protection Agency and Dr. Lester Crawford for commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. They have excellent reasons for opposition in each case, but some reasons are more excellent than others.
Mr. Bolton stands out because he is not only bad in a policy sense, but also unqualified for the post to which he’s been named. At a minimum, the United States representative to the United Nations should be a person who believes it is a good idea. Mr. Bolton has never made secret his disdain for the United Nations, for multilateralism and for consensus-seeking diplomacy in general.
When the Senate Foreign Relations Committee begins taking testimony on Mr. Bolton’s nomination next week, it is also expected to hear other charges about his fitness, like allegations that when he was under secretary of state for arms control, he tried to distort intelligence reports by intimidating analysts who disagreed with him. After the invasion of Iraq, complaints that top advisers to the president had attempted to make intelligence reports conform to a preconceived conclusion about Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs were often aimed in Mr. Bolton’s direction.
All of this is very much to the point. When the country chooses an ambassador to the United Nations, it ought to avoid picking someone whose bullying style of leadership symbolizes everything that created the current estrangement between the United States and most of the world. One of the goals of Mr. Bush’s second term was supposed to be rapprochement with other nations, whose assistance the United States desperately needs to curb the proliferation of the real weapons of mass destruction.
Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee are fighting to actually kill Mr. Bolton’s nomination; all eyes are on Lincoln Chafee, the moderate Republican swing vote who has a record of being very supportive of the United Nations.
Fitness is much of the question, but it’s a broad generalization over many specific concerns about Mr. Bolton’s record running a non-profit, non-partisan institution in a radically partisan way for the Republican National Committee while taking foreign funds to support that caus; it’s about punishing and “getting fired” intelligence analysts who disagreed with him about various WMD programs; it’s about lying and deceiving through much of his working government career the United States Congress.
This is not just about John Bolton’s ode-to-Jesse-Helms anti-United Nations screeds; its about ethics, fairness, diplomacy.
Opponents of John Bolton have been targeting the moderate Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — Lincoln Chafee, Chuck Hagel, and Richard Lugar — but honestly, all of the Senators on the Committee, Democrat and Republican, are fair-play people.
They know that John Bolton’s repeated abuses, defiance of Congress, manipulation of rules separating Congress and the Executive (when he was operating as Jesse Helms’ attack man while at Justice) are all wrong and run counter to the type of person with impeccable credentials whom we should be sending as America’s chief advocate to the United Nations.
— Steve Clemons