Thursday, June 30, 2005

Recess Appointment Prospects Fading

Steve Clemons reports this evening, after consulting with Senate and White House sources, that the chances of a recess appointment for John Bolton next week are growing slimmer. While that option is still a possibility, Clemons believes that the Senate will take up Bolton's nomination again sometime in July, possibly in coordination with a yet-to-be-released "United Nations reform" bill.

The White House undoubtedly understands the signals a recess appointment would send, and the players there are attempting to wriggle their way out of the corner they have so inexpertly backed themselves into. By coordinating votes on Bolton with debate on a UN reform package, the goal would be to paint Bolton opponents as anti-reform, exactly what they've been trying to do since April, but with a concrete example. We don't know yet what shape the reform package will take, but you can bet that it will be designed to force opposition (i.e. it could include a provision mandating the withholding of dues or something similar, which many in the Senate have said they would oppose).

What we all must remember as we move forward on this: John Bolton's record as a diplomat is ineffective at best, and could more aptly be described as downright detrimental. From Libya, to the nuclear non-profileration initiative, to Iran and North Korea, John Bolton has done more harm to American diplomacy than good. I cannot expect this record will change if he's confirmed as the UN Ambassador. John Bolton has tried, on numerous occasions, to influence intelligence analysts - and when they didn't cave under his pressures, he attempted to have them fired or transferred. His reputation in the international community is abyssmal, and his chances of success in carrying out the necessary and vital reforms at the UN are slim to none.

Since the Bolton nomination was announced, support for it has been on a straight downward slope almost from day one. The president and his administration have backed themselves into a very dark corner by refusing the very reasonable requests from senators Biden and Dodd; after a rising tide of statements from Republican senators in favor of granting those requests, it is clear that another attempt at cloture would be just as unsuccessful (if not more so) than prior efforts. So now we're down to three options: quietly withdraw Bolton's name and nominate a strong leader who can be confirmed and get to work, appoint Bolton during a recess and send a hamstrung, unconfirmed representative to the United Nations when America requires a strong voice there, or this new possibility - tying a vote on Bolton to a UN-reform package sometime in July.

Option one obviously would be the best choice for the country, but since this Administration refuses to admit error on anything, it seems unlikely. Option two remains a possibility, but Bolton's possible (and understandable) reticence (as well as that of many Republican senators) may preclude it from happening. Option three allows the debate on Bolton to continue, and will give opponents of the nomination another few weeks to gather information and continue to make our case that John Bolton is not the ambassador we need to carry out any sort of meaningful reform at the United Nations. I, for one, will relish the chance to keep pointing out the reasons that John Bolton's not the best man for the job.

I say to the White House, "bring it on."


At 11:15 PM, Anonymous Stygius said...

It's going to be a few days before I can get back to blogging, but I hope to do some good stuff.

At 5:21 AM, Blogger . said...

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