Monday, August 01, 2005

Bush Preempts Senate and Appoints John Bolton

Emperor Bush has bypassed the Senate confirmation process and appointed John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Bush used a provision allowing presidents to make appointments without confirmation by the Senate if the appointment is done while Congress is in recess. So he's acted technically within the law, but ignored the spirit of the law and the meaning of the confirmation process, which is part of the American system of checks and balances that guards against one branch of government becoming more powerful than the other two.

This preemption is especially heinous in Bolton's case, because his confirmation process raised so many serious issues about his honesty, his integrity, and his treatment of the people who work for him. The man has a history of open hostility to the United Nations; he comes from a position of opposition to the values of multilateralism, peaceful cooperation among nations, and the use of diplomacy in preference to war that the U.N. exists to serve. How can he effectively and honestly serve as his country's representative at an institution he doesn't believe in and would like to destroy?

Bush defended his unilateral appointment by saying, "A majority of U.S. senators agree that he is the right man for the job, ... but because of partisan delaying tactics by a handful of senators, John was denied the up and down vote he deserves."

Well, presidential appointments aren't supposed to get up or down votes. They are supposed to be confirmed after answering questions about their fitness for office to the satisfaction of the U.S. Senate. On a number of serious points, Bolton did not pass that test. Plus, Bush ignores the fact that the man who cast the vote that sent Bolton's nomination from the Foreign Relations Committee to the full Senate without a recommendation is a Republican -- George V. Voinovich of Ohio.

Bolton has been accused of verbally abusing subordinates who did their jobs honestly and conscientiously but did not give him the conclusions he wanted. He has a reputation for vengefulness, ruthlessness, and -- there's that word! -- partisan behavior in rejecting intelligence that does not match up with his ideology. He is reported to have used, or tried to use, secret information to harm colleagues who crossed him at the State Department and the C.I.A. And he has not answered questions about these matters honestly or straightforwardly.

Democrats in the Senate are well within their rights to balk at confirming Bolton under these conditions. They are doing their job. Would that the Republicans (with the one exception of Voinovich) were willing to put partisan politics aside to do theirs.

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