Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Swinging in the Breeze

While the attention of the media (and therefore, everyone else) has shifted to the Supreme Court nomination, that of John Bolton to be UN Ambassador is still hanging over the capital like a "little black raincloud," as the AP's Liz Sidoti reports this afternoon. Sidoti sees a recess appointment for Bolton as more likely now that the SCOTUS business is out there: "it's seeming more likely that President Bush will go around lawmakers and use his powers to single-handedly - though temporarily - appoint Bolton ambassador when Congress is out of town."

Sidoti reports that "negotiations continue" between the Administration and Senate Democrats, and that if a recess appointment occurs, it will not be until Congress' August recess. But, given the other options, Sidoti suggests (i.e. withdraw the nomination or make a fair compromise with Senate Democrats and give them the information they've requested), a recess appointment is about the only way Bush can get Bolton into the position without "losing face" with conservatives.

"But," Sidoti writes, "that option also has drawbacks. Some U.N. watchers say the United States would be sending damaged goods to the world body. A recess appointment also could offend senators eager to protect their chamber's power, prompting them to be less cooperative on other pieces of his agenda."

Steve Clemons at The Washington Note posted earlier Tuesday that officials from the State Department and the Bush Administration will be meeting this week to decide whether to call for another vote in the Senate (which at this point they would be more than likely to lose) or to just recess appoint Bolton. He makes a point to note that his sources from State say that withdrawal of the nomination is not being discussed.

Later this afternoon, Clemons linked to Sidoti's article, taking issue with her sentence that negotiations between the Adminstration and Democrats are ongoing. He says that his own Senate sources deny that the White House has been discussing the possibility of compromise with Democrats like Biden and Dodd, but suggests the possibility that "the White House is negotiating secretly with Democrats that they are trying to lure from the pack rather than dealing with Biden and Dodd."

That is certainly a plausible scenario, but I cannot imagine that it will be particularly effective. With each cloture vote in the Senate, Bolton has lost support, not gained it. Democrats, even those who might be wavering, know that they've got this nomination on the skids right now; there's no reason for them to back down now from the legitimate requests for information they've made.

The president would be wise to quietly withdraw John Bolton's name (maybe just an hour or so after he announces his Court nominee), and send to the Senate the name of another strong, reformist nominee without Bolton's record of abrasiveness and ineffectiveness.


At 7:49 PM, Blogger M. Takhallus. said...

I think given the way this president thinks he'd read the withdrawal of Bolton as a display of weakness. I suspect he'll go with a "double screw you," and do the recess appointment while nominating someone from the Taliban wing of the GOP.

Incidentally the "double screw-you" was invented shortly after the double axel and was gfirst featured at the Saravejo winter games.
Michael Reynolds

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

Why would Bolton's so-called abrasiveness be undesirable in the den of thieves that the UN has become? Seems to me that chamber could benefit from some straight talking.


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