Thursday, May 12, 2005

Voinovich to the Rescue Redux

Senator George Voinovich has just made an amazing/eloquent/remarkable statement in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, concluding by saying "We can do better than John Bolton." As soon as a transcript is available, I will post it. Voinovich has asked that the Committee act on a bipartisan basis to send the nomination to the Senate floor "without recommendation" rather than with a positive recommendation.

Part of Voinovich's statement was a response to Secretary Rice, who told Voinovich that Bolton would be "supervised" at the UN to make sure he didn't go "off the reservation." Voinovich said his thought then, that he should have expressed, was "Why would you send someone to the United Nations that had to be supervised?" That, my friends, is the $64,000 question.

Senator Biden has just gotten the floor, and began by saying "Much of what I was going to say would be redundant, and not as eloquent, as what we just heard" from Senator Voinovich. "So much for partisanship," he said.

[Update: Bloomberg has this story out about Voinovich's statement. It includes several quotes that I couldn't remember closely enough to put in the first update: "Bolton would have been fired if he worked for a major corporation," and that Bolton is "the poster child for what someone in the diplomatic corps should not be."

Biden is continuing to speak now, laying out his case against Bolton. He was right, he's not being nearly as eloquent as Voinovich was. He ought to just ask for the vote and save his breath. -- 11:40 a.m.]

[More: The AP is headlining this story in a very interesting way: "Republican Agrees to Let Bolton vote go forward." This is very odd. Yes, Voinovich said that Bolton should be allowed to receive a floor vote, but if the nomination goes to the floor with "no recommendation" from the Foreign Relations Committee, it would be a real blow to the Administration and could persuade other Republicans to oppose confirmation on the floor - particularly if Voinovich makes as convincing a case there as he did today. The AP piece does clearly state Voinovich's intention to oppose Bolton's confirmation when it gets to the floor.

There is nothing wrong with what Senator Voinovich did. The nomination was going to go to the floor regardless, and having no recommendation from the committee damages it, possibly irreparably. -- 11:59 a.m.]

[More: I missed a couple of speakers, but I just heard the tail end of Senator Dodd's statement, in which he suggested that the committee ought to not send the nomination to the floor and kill it completely in committee. Senator Chafee is speaking now, and began by saying that he agrees with Dodd that intimidation of intelligence analysts is wrong. He's now saying that he wants to take Bolton at his word that he will perform as instructed at the UN. -- 12:47 p.m.]

[More: Chafee said he'll support the motion to send the nomination to the floor with no recommendation; does not say how he'll vote after a floor debate - 12:50 p.m.]

[More: Think Progress has the transcript of Voinovich's comments. They are well worth a read. What a statement. -- 12:53 p.m.]

[More: Laura Rozen at War and Piece is updating after each speaker, so definitely keep an eye on her site as the afternoon goes forward. Senator Kerry is speaking now, mainly repeating what's already been said by Voinovich and Biden (and presumably Dodd too, most of whose speech I missed) -- 1:00 p.m.]

[More: Kerry is discussing aspects of Bolton's testimony before the Foreign Relations Committee that have proven 'distorted' at best, even 'untrue.' "There are these serious issues and more, many more, and I don't think that we should send it out of this committee, I think it should end here. ... The record speaks for itself, and this committee should speak for itself." Now Senator Coleman is speaking, in defense of Bolton. -- 1:06 p.m.]

[More: Not much new from Coleman, more of the same defenses we heard from Lugar and Allen, "the president should have the right to pick his team" etc. I must step away for a little while, but will be back as soon as possible. Feingold's up now. -- 1:20 p.m.]

[More: I'm back. Senator Murkowski is speaking now, saying that "our representative needs to work with others" but that "the president deserves to be surrounded by people that he selects ...". I missed Feingold, Boxer, Alexander, and Obama ... for accounts of those, please check out Laura Rozen at War and Piece. Murkowski: "It's the president's responsibility to ensure that his nominee is part of the team ... The president has put his trust in John Bolton ... I will support moving Mr. Bolton's nomination to the Senate floor." Now Martinez. -- 2:45 p.m.]

[More: Martinez spoke in favor of Bolton, saying "one incident doesn't make a pattern" - how about five, or six? We've certainly seen more than one, Senator. Bill Nelson from Florida is up now, saying that we need someone at the UN who can build bridges. "Does he deserve to be promoted because of the job he's done as arms control negotiator? ... In four years, how much progress have we made in stopping the spread of nuclear weapons in [North Korea and Iran]. And who was in charge of arms control? And now we're asked to promote this man? So I'm going to vote no." Biden now to sum up. -- 3:00 p.m.]

[More: Biden: "This is not about unwillingness to cooperate ... This is not a committee that is generally contentious." Discusses recent cases in which it has taken several hearings before the committee voted on various nominees - Richard Holbrooke, John Negroponte. Brings up the NSA transcripts, says the Intelligence Committee ought to get all the information about the intercepts that Bolton received, even though he doesn't think there's "anything there." "We ought to have that information," he says. "I don't ever recall a nominee being put forward by a president who had so many people who worked for that president come forward and say that nominee shouldn't be confirmed." Calls that "mildly remarkable." -- 3:06 p.m.]

[More: Biden, continued. "Why would you send someone to the United Nations at this moment that you acknowledge you're gonna need to control. Can you think of any time in the recent past when our interests were more at stake than at this present moment? ... Says that he doesn't buy the argument that "the president deserves his man" and that that seems to be the only line the GOP senators are using. Steve Clemons has this good explanation of what happens with a "no recommendation" vote in committee. -- 3:13 p.m.]

[More: Biden, continued. Democrats will not make a competing motion to the 'no recommendation' motion suggested by Voinovich at the top. "There are two things that seem to me to be operative. One is that [the president deserves his man] is a controlling rationale ... and secondly, we may be damning with faint praise here ... I truly believe ... the president would be better served if Mr. Bolton's nomination were to be pulled down." Notes that he doesn't expect it to be, but that "the president would be better served" if it were. "It doesn't appear that Mr. Bolton has the confidence of the majority of this committee, and I would suggest that it might be in the president's interest to take note of that." -- 3:19 p.m.]

[More: Lugar, to close the debate. Thanks Biden for his participation and allowing the committee to meet, urges cooperation as we move forward. Lugar moves the question "to report the nomination without recommendation." Passes 10-8, as expected, on a party line. -- 3:23 p.m.]


At 11:40 AM, Anonymous William Swann said...

I live in Ohio, and my wife and I were just commenting last night on how unrealistic it was for anyone to expect Voinovich, our Senator, to be the one who breaks ranks on the Bolton nomination. If you can't get Chafee or Hagel, I said, you'd never get Voinovich.

So, obviously, we know nothing. Disregard anything I say.

At 12:41 PM, Anonymous Paul M Lyren said...

If this goes to the Senate floor and Frist doesn't have the numbers, he won't take it to a vote and let the President get emberassed in such a high profile news story. I fear he will simply do a recess appointment over Memorial Day when the news cycle is slow, and people aren't as interested.

I've been waiting for the "Main Street" Republicans to show their quality and assert a certain level of power that begins to differentiate them from the more extreme/evangelical wing of the party that has been soaking up all the press for the last 4 years. I wait with baited breath for this to play out. I just wish I could get streaming feeds at work so I could watch C-Span 3...

At 2:43 PM, Blogger EG said...

I look at this nomination with a different angle. If Bolton wins nomination and goes to the U.N., we know the U.S. will be more ignored than it was prior to his appointment.

If Bolton doesn't get the nomination, Bush will appoint another person that will attract less outrage. But he/she will follow the President's policies.

That, not the person heading the U.S. delegation, is what the U.N. objects to. So does it really matter who is the U.N. representative with Bush as President?

At 6:32 PM, Blogger Heiuan said...

EG, IMO, yes it does matter who the representative is.

Bolton is NOT a diplomat. Yes, he may very well be ideologically perfect for Mr. Bush, but he doesn't command the requisite skill sets. Not only that, but I'm truly afraid that Bolton will hurt our interests even further.

There are several Republicans that would also serve Mr. Bush's agenda that do have the required skills to be a diplomat. Mr. Orrin Hatch, for instance. He's about as conservative as it gets, but he knows politics on the big stage. He knows the value of compromise and cooperation. He might actually have a chance to make a difference in restructuring the UN.

I'm truly sorry that Mr. Bush feels so strongly about having to pull back on this nomination. I think it's strictly his ego still smarting from Kerick.

Anyway, enough from me.

At 12:00 AM, Blogger EG said...

But would Hatch leave the Senate for the U.N.?

The previous U.N. ambassador, Senator Danforth, was an exceptional person and held bi-partisan support. Bush wants someone for the wingnut faction and Bolton fits the bill. They want a Yosemite Sam-type character to go in and shoot 'em up. Hatch is more polite than that.

At 6:36 PM, Blogger Heiuan said...

This is what I really don't understand. If the Bush administration *really* wants UN reform, then why put someone in the position of Ambassador who has no chance of accomplishing that goal?

If all they really want is the UN to go away, then why don't we simply withdraw our membership, offer to buy the land back and see if Canada will sell the UN some new land a couple of hundred miles to the north?

At 8:51 PM, Blogger JBD said...

Great discussion! Bill, don't dispair, I don't think anybody expected this. eg and heiuan, keep discussing, but I think you're both on the right track - simply this: "we can do better" than John Bolton.

And we should.

At 5:24 PM, Blogger jah said...

Paul(Mua’Dib)Lyren, I agree CSPAN3, is required viewing. go warriors!


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