Friday, May 13, 2005

Bolton update: Almost the right thing isn't good enough

Courage? Is there any courage in the room? Posted by Hello

With a 10-8 party-line vote, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has sent John Bolton's nomination to the floor. But it did so without actually endorsing Bolton. As the Times reports, "[t]he highly unusual move was only the third time in 22 years that the committee has sent a nomination to the Senate without a favorable recommendation". Following up yesterday's post, all four Republican moderates -- Chafee, Hagel, Murkowski, and Voinovich -- voted for Bolton. But Voinovich "broke with the party and denounced [Bolton], calling him 'the poster child of what someone in the diplomatic corps should not be'". I'm impressed that Voinovich summoned enough courage to break with Republican orthodoxy -- rare these partisan days -- but why did he vote for someone he denounced? Shouldn't it have been a 9-9 tie?

And this just makes me sick. Voinovich: "What message are we sending to the world community? We have sought to appoint an ambassador to the United Nations who himself has been accused of being arrogant, of not listening to his friends, of acting unilaterally, and of bullying those who do not have ability to properly defend themselves. Those are the very characteristics that we are trying to dispel."

The Times goes on: "In deciding not to block the nomination in committee, Mr. Voinovich also appears to have bowed to pressure from the White House, which has said for weeks that Mr. Bolton deserved a vote by the full Senate. Mr. Voinovich said he was willing to 'let the Senate work its will,' but said he would plead with colleagues 'to consider the decision and its consequences carefully'."

Regardless, it seems unlikely that Bolton's nomination will die on the floor. With Republicans in firm control of the Senate, he'll soon be the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., warts and all. (Unless Voinovich's flimsy courage somehow rubs off on a few others.)

Feel free to shudder.


Elsewhere, the Times is reporting that moderate Republican are feeling intensifying pressure in the Senate:

"The unusual pact that permitted the nomination of [Bolton] to go forward on Thursday without the support of a crucial Republican senator has exposed, in a very raw and public way, the extreme pressures facing Republican moderates in a Senate that is increasingly dominated by conservatives."

With an upcoming vote on reforming Senate rules to do away with the filibuster (thereby paving the way for confirmation of Bush's more extremist judicial nominees -- including, soon, one or more Supreme Court nominees), this development is especially troubling. The pressure will be on moderate and independent-minded Republicans -- Chafee, Hagel, and Voinovich, along with John McCain of Arizona, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, and Olympia Snow and Susan Collins of Maine -- to stand firm. The Democrats will fight a noble battle, but they just don't have the numbers.

Still shuddering?

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