Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
Paging Mr. Moustache
Thanks to the miracle of C-SPAN, I finally had a chance to listen to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in which Ohio Sen. Voinovich opened up a can of whupass on would-be U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.

Indeed, Voinovich's statement was a blockbuster -- and his courage ought to shame burbling "moderates" like Lincoln Chaffee (who looked particularly constipated througout), who have declaired themselves "concerned" and "apprehensive" but who apparently don't have the stones to stand up to the president, or to prevent the United States from being represented around the world by the likes of Mr. Bolton. The Ohio Senator was beet-red while reading it, and seemed at pains to stress that he had poured over the testimony and done his own interviews and research to make up for missing the actual hearings, in coming to his conclusion.

Take it away, Dana Milbank:

Voinovich, a loyal party man, agreed to let Bolton's nomination continue without a committee recommendation to the floor of the Senate and likely confirmation. But Voinovich's sentiment -- and the mostly tepid defense of the nominee by Republicans at yesterday's hearing -- made it clear that the GOP was driven by deference to the president, not affection for the nominee.


"No one really is excited about him," Voinovich told a swarm of reporters in the hallway after announcing his opposition.


But perhaps the more important statements came from Delaware Democrat Joe Biden, who made a few key points (in that long winded, arrogant, Biden way that so indears the Delaware Senator to those of us who like him), namely:

1. Members of the United States Senate do not work for the president of the United States. Sounds like a simple, self-evident point, but unfortunately it needed to be said. Biden's beef is that the Bush administration continues to deny the Democrats on the committee documents the administration deems "irrelevant." But as Mr. Biden unfortunately felt he had to point out, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is not there simply to rubber stamp the president's wishes, and as a co-equal branch of government, the Senate can decide for itself what's relevant to its committees.

2. The Bolton nomination is smelling more and more like a political payoff. Mr. Biden claims Condi Rice approached him before the Bolton nomination went public, and essentially told him Bolton had to be placed in "an important job" somewhere, and that political considerations (read feeding the right wing base beast), meant he needed to go to the U.N. Ms. Rice, according to Mr. Biden, essentially promised to personally supervise the notoriously nasty Bolton, leading both Mr. Biden and Mr. Voinovich to wonder aloud: why would you send someone to the United Nations as the fourth most important representative of the United States to the rest of the world (after the president, vice president and secretary of state), who needs to be supervised? And why turn such an important appointment into a slab of red meat for the FReeper crowd?

3. Mr. Bolton's poor leadership skills and abysmal interpersonal skills, not to mention his alleged shading of intelligence and abuse of analysts in order to twist intel to match his ideological goals simply make him unqualified for the job of U.N. ambassador. This is particularly true in light of revelations that the president of the United States, along with the prime minister of England, appear to have misled their countries as to when they actually decided to invade Iraq, including "fixing the intelligence to the policy."

4. Opposition to Mr. Bolton wasn't dredged up by the Democrats -- in nearly every case, people who have worked with, above and below Mr. Bolton came forward to make their opposition known. And most of these were Republicans or Republican appointees -- hardly a left wing cabal.

America's reputation for bullying and dishonesty -- a reputation cemented by the Bush administration's Iraq policy, by the way -- can hardly be ameliorated, and our lost honor, credibility and prestige can hardly be restored, by shoving Mr. Bolton's moustache into the faces of the world's diplomats, or by imposing him on our own.
posted by JReid @ 11:40 PM  
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