Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Bolton Nomination: The Latest

It has been several days since any public statements from the Administration or new major news stories appeared about the John Bolton nomination. The silence is deafening. Since I noted yesterday that Bill Frist had not yet filed a new cloture petition in the Senate - meaning that the chamber would not hold another Bolton cloture vote this week - discussion has revolved mainly around two questions: is Bush prepared to make a recess appointment for Bolton? And even if he is, would Bolton accept?

Steve Clemons, who has been out in front on all things Bolton since the outset, says he's not so sure Bolton would take the job if offered as a recess appointment. Speculating this morning at TPMCafe, Clemons writes "Most think that a recess appointment is likely this next week. But Bolton himself has not wanted to go to the United Nations in such a crippled position - and may want to drop out. What may be going on now is the White House trying to bully Bolton into accepting the job - and standing by the President's plan no matter how personally harmful to Bolton."

I'm not sure if this is right, but it certainly makes some sense. There's also the possibility that the Administration has been being quiet on Bolton so as not to distract from the president's Iraq speech last night. If that's the case, though, we might have expected some action on the nomination this afternoon or evening, and thus far that hasn't been forthcoming.

"In the end," Clemons adds at The Washington Note, "while the White House did not get its way in the Senate, it will probably prevail in nudging Bolton to accept the job any way he gets it. Principle will be lost, and Bolton knows it. No more illusions - and no weight at all on U.N. reform or on the coming Security Council efforts on North Korea and Iran."

As I've said before, a recess appointment would indeed hobble Bolton's chances for getting anything meaningful accomplished at the United Nations. It would serve only as a reinforcement of the petulancy and petty stubbornness of this White House and the vice president. Their stated goal is to get a strong reformer at the UN. A recess-appointed Bolton would be neither strong nor effective, and I think John Bolton knows that as well as anyone.


At 8:21 PM, Blogger M. Takhallus. said...

Are we placing bets? I've got $2 on recess appointment and Bolton accepts. Bolton has no shame -- if he did he'd have withdrawn weeks ago.

Michael Reynolds

At 12:29 AM, Blogger "A Brown" said...

I think you are correct, though it has nothing to do with shame. Kausfile (sorry, not an archived post) summed it up well (links and styles more or less omitted):

The Bolton nomination is already paying dividends, WaPo notes. ...Moving him from State to the U.N. seems part of a shift that's highly favorable from a Democratic foreign policy perspective. Too bad that the need to posture prevents Dems from admitting this (and the need to pretend that Bolton's being elevated prevents Republicans from admitting it).. ...Maybe Newsweek should start a Kabuki Watch to go with its existing CW Watch:
Surface story: Bolton promoted to powerful U.N. post where he'll destroy U.S. relations with allies!
Real Story: Bolton moved out of powerful State job to U.N. post where he can do much less damage!


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