The fascinating thing about the John Bolton fight is that Bolton is a second priority on most lists when compared to the fight over Bush’s judicial appointments.
Whereas Dick Cheney’s wing of the White House doesn’t realize that good diplomacy and a sustainably winning strategy requires losing the less important battles, many in the Senate — on both sides of the aisle — see it that way.
If the Republicans overpower the Dems tomorrow on the first judicial standoff on the floor, then there are a number of Republicans willing to join up with George Voinovich’s team opposing Bolton. Interestingly, whereas Voinovich has stated publicly that he will not try and whip up an anti-Bolton vote among his colleagues, TWN has learned that he is doing just enough to keep this race interesting.
If there is a deal on judges, then the chances are high that Reid and the Democratic leadership will give the Republicans Bolton as a gesture of good will, damaged goods though he will be. But so far, it looks like a collision over judicial appointments and a collision over Bolton.
In the case of Bolton, because there is so much Republican discomfort with him, the high-handedness of the push on Bolton is actually encouraging Republicans to defect from the pro-Bolton camp.
We have a minimum of two days to continue to fight this — and perhaps many more if Frist changes course. Senator Reid’s office reports that they have had no official communication from Senator Frist that he will indeed push to move to Bolton on Wednesday.
But stay tuned. This is getting extremely interesting.
For those of you who want to follow what the “Stop Bolton Activists” are up to, they have a new notification and alert board up here.
More shortly on the NSA intercepts.
— Steve Clemons