One of the more disgraceful recent instances of political obstructionism was the Senate's refusal to confirm the superbly qualified and eloquent John Bolton as ambassador to the UN. The President for forced to use an interim appointment to temporarily bypass the Senate. That interim appointment will soon expire.
Ohio Republican Senator George Voinovich was one of the few Republicans to join those blocking Ambassador Bolton's appointment. He has now issued a not—quite mea culpa in the Washington Post, indicating that Bolton has grown in office and now would receive his support.
My original concerns about Bolton involved his interpersonal skills. Also of concern was his reputation for straying off message and a tendency to "go it alone" instead of working to build consensus with his colleagues. I have met and spoken regularly with him since his appointment, discussing my hope that the United States would indeed build such a consensus at the United Nations and work with our allies.
My observations are that while Bolton is not perfect, he has demonstrated his ability, especially in recent months, to work with others and follow the president's lead by working multilaterally. In recent weeks I have watched him react to the challenges involving North Korea, Iran and now the Middle East, speaking on behalf of the United States.
I believe Bolton has been tempered and focused on speaking for the administration.
More importantly, Sen. Voinovich tells his Senate colleagues to re—think matters if the Bolton re—nomination comes their way:
Should the president choose to renominate him, I cannot imagine a worse message to send to the terrorists —— and to other nations deciding whether to engage in this effort —— than to drag out a possible renomination process or even replace the person our president has entrusted to lead our nation at the United Nations at a time when we are working on these historic objectives.
For me or my colleagues in the Senate to now question a possible renomination would jeopardize our influence in the United Nations and encourage those who oppose the United States to make Bolton the issue, thereby undermining our policies and agenda.
Should the president send his renomination to the Senate, I will vote to confirm him, and I call on my Democratic colleagues to keep in mind the current situation in the Middle East and the rest of the world should the Senate have an opportunity to vote. I do not believe the United States, at this dangerous time, can afford to have a U.N. ambassador who does not have Congress's full support.
Hat tip: Ed Lasky
Thomas Lifson 7 20 06
Clarice Feldman adds:
Senator George Voinovich behaved disgracefully during the confirmation hearings of John Bolton to be US Ambassador to the United States.
Bolton has proven himself as the very best Ambassador we have ever had to that fractitious body and under the most trying times.
It takes a big man to publicly reverse course when the facts prove he was wrong. I hope his colleagues in the Senate will follow his admonition.