The Bolton Confirmation Hearings Loom

Last April, U.N. Ambassador John Bolton wryly noted at a Federalist Society event in Manhattan that the United States is the only member of the U.N. that is expected to do anything other than advocate on its own behalf. To the contrary, Bolton pointed out, Americans are chastised when we protect our own interests at Turtle Bay, this despite being the U.N.'s cash cow and Secretariat host, and an international engine of democracy.

Mr. Bolton's comments exemplified the unabashed, pro—U.S. sentiment that had led Senate Democrats to obstruct his nomination last year and resulted in Bolton's temporary, recess appointment.  Yet it's long been obvious that Democrats' purported 'concerns' with the Ambassador involve something other than Mr. Bolton's personality. As a minority party flailing under the spell of its Howard Dean wing, Democrats regard Bolton as a proxy for President Bush's reviled 'Cowboy Diplomacy,' and Bolton's confirmation hearings as an opportunity for sound—byte jabs at the Administration's conduct. For Democrats who still rely so heavily upon John F. Kerry's tired 'litany of complaints,' the absurd circus of confirmation hearings is perceived to be essential. (Most Americans agree with Mr. Bolton's fundamental view of things, not Dems', but this hasn't, and won't faze them.)

In fairness, even some Republicans used Bolton's nomination for election year purposes. In fact, one of Mr. Bolton's more vocal opponents used to be Senator George Voinovich, the Ohio Republican. But with Mr. Bolton's recess appointment nearing expiration, Voinovich reversed course, writing in the Washington Post that Bolton's performance thus far debunks the silly 'concerns' about Bolton that were repeated ad nauseum last summer: purportedly, his "interpersonal skills," "reputation for straying off message," and "tendency to 'go it alone'." Bolton deserves confirmation to a permanent spot, Voinovich argued, and more importantly, America needs John Bolton.

One might have hoped this reasonable appeal might garner some support. But the Democrats' response to Voinovich was disappointing and swift in equal doses. Senator Christopher Dodd, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, took the lead  and promised a 'bruising fight' in the event President Bush has the temerity to re—nominate Bolton. 'The problems still persist,' Dodd explained, vaguely.

Senator Dodd's comments were significant on two levels.  First, in terms of crass political calculus, it seems clear that as we head into November's elections, Bolton's re—nomination is perceived by Democrats as an opportunity to castigate the President (whatever might be 'good for the country' places a distant second). Once again, Dems' myopic zeal to destroy President Bush blinds them to an inconvenient truth: most Americans appreciate Bolton's principled, unambiguous approach to diplomacy.  In the end, Republicans stand to gain from each time Senator Dodd's internationalist sentiment is repeated.

More significant, though, is a point that may have been unintentional. 'Many ambassadors at the U.N. feel he hasn't done a good job there,' Senator Dodd said of Bolton, explaining Dems' blood—lust for those 'bruising' hearings. 'It's polarized the situation," he went on. Read that again. A ranking Senate Democrat believes an international consensus is required for Senate confirmation of a U.S. Ambassador.

Senator Dodd didn't bother to explain what doing a 'good job' means or identify those 'many ambassadors,' and it's easy enough to dismiss Dodd's comments as hyperbole. But they should not be disregarded, or misunderstood, because it is rare for public dialogue to be afforded such clarity, accidental or not. Those little dots of creeping internationalism and decay in American sovereignty need to be connected, too — recall the Democratic 'global test' for U.S. intervention abroad; John F. Kerry's preference for the U.N.'s blue flag over Old Glory; the Democrats' admiration for the absurd International Court of Criminal Justice and Kyoto, to name a few.

Anyone who has paid attention to Democrats' frequent attempts to denigrate U.S. sovereignty in favor of 'international law' should be appalled by Dodd's comments. With the virulent, anti—American pathos of the Angry Left strengthening its foothold on ballot boxes and among purportedly 'mainstream' dialogue, Senator Dodd's admission serves as a stark reminder that Democrats regard the international community as more important than the American one.  Indeed, by admitting the need for international input into U.S. decision—making and policy, Dodd reminded us why Democrats must not be entrusted with our vote. Karl Rove couldn't have conceived a better plan.

Bill Lalor is an attorney in New York City and proprietor of Citizen Journal.

Last April, U.N. Ambassador John Bolton wryly noted at a Federalist Society event in Manhattan that the United States is the only member of the U.N. that is expected to do anything other than advocate on its own behalf. To the contrary, Bolton pointed out, Americans are chastised when we protect our own interests at Turtle Bay, this despite being the U.N.'s cash cow and Secretariat host, and an international engine of democracy.

Mr. Bolton's comments exemplified the unabashed, pro—U.S. sentiment that had led Senate Democrats to obstruct his nomination last year and resulted in Bolton's temporary, recess appointment.  Yet it's long been obvious that Democrats' purported 'concerns' with the Ambassador involve something other than Mr. Bolton's personality. As a minority party flailing under the spell of its Howard Dean wing, Democrats regard Bolton as a proxy for President Bush's reviled 'Cowboy Diplomacy,' and Bolton's confirmation hearings as an opportunity for sound—byte jabs at the Administration's conduct. For Democrats who still rely so heavily upon John F. Kerry's tired 'litany of complaints,' the absurd circus of confirmation hearings is perceived to be essential. (Most Americans agree with Mr. Bolton's fundamental view of things, not Dems', but this hasn't, and won't faze them.)

In fairness, even some Republicans used Bolton's nomination for election year purposes. In fact, one of Mr. Bolton's more vocal opponents used to be Senator George Voinovich, the Ohio Republican. But with Mr. Bolton's recess appointment nearing expiration, Voinovich reversed course, writing in the Washington Post that Bolton's performance thus far debunks the silly 'concerns' about Bolton that were repeated ad nauseum last summer: purportedly, his "interpersonal skills," "reputation for straying off message," and "tendency to 'go it alone'." Bolton deserves confirmation to a permanent spot, Voinovich argued, and more importantly, America needs John Bolton.

One might have hoped this reasonable appeal might garner some support. But the Democrats' response to Voinovich was disappointing and swift in equal doses. Senator Christopher Dodd, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, took the lead  and promised a 'bruising fight' in the event President Bush has the temerity to re—nominate Bolton. 'The problems still persist,' Dodd explained, vaguely.

Senator Dodd's comments were significant on two levels.  First, in terms of crass political calculus, it seems clear that as we head into November's elections, Bolton's re—nomination is perceived by Democrats as an opportunity to castigate the President (whatever might be 'good for the country' places a distant second). Once again, Dems' myopic zeal to destroy President Bush blinds them to an inconvenient truth: most Americans appreciate Bolton's principled, unambiguous approach to diplomacy.  In the end, Republicans stand to gain from each time Senator Dodd's internationalist sentiment is repeated.

More significant, though, is a point that may have been unintentional. 'Many ambassadors at the U.N. feel he hasn't done a good job there,' Senator Dodd said of Bolton, explaining Dems' blood—lust for those 'bruising' hearings. 'It's polarized the situation," he went on. Read that again. A ranking Senate Democrat believes an international consensus is required for Senate confirmation of a U.S. Ambassador.

Senator Dodd didn't bother to explain what doing a 'good job' means or identify those 'many ambassadors,' and it's easy enough to dismiss Dodd's comments as hyperbole. But they should not be disregarded, or misunderstood, because it is rare for public dialogue to be afforded such clarity, accidental or not. Those little dots of creeping internationalism and decay in American sovereignty need to be connected, too — recall the Democratic 'global test' for U.S. intervention abroad; John F. Kerry's preference for the U.N.'s blue flag over Old Glory; the Democrats' admiration for the absurd International Court of Criminal Justice and Kyoto, to name a few.

Anyone who has paid attention to Democrats' frequent attempts to denigrate U.S. sovereignty in favor of 'international law' should be appalled by Dodd's comments. With the virulent, anti—American pathos of the Angry Left strengthening its foothold on ballot boxes and among purportedly 'mainstream' dialogue, Senator Dodd's admission serves as a stark reminder that Democrats regard the international community as more important than the American one.  Indeed, by admitting the need for international input into U.S. decision—making and policy, Dodd reminded us why Democrats must not be entrusted with our vote. Karl Rove couldn't have conceived a better plan.

Bill Lalor is an attorney in New York City and proprietor of Citizen Journal.