Friday, May 13, 2005

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When It's 9-9, Who Wins?

Steve Clemons seems fairly confident that the surprise 9-9 committee vote is going to create more problems for John Bolton:

Bolton won't get a vote before Memorial Day recess. This marathon has a long way to go, and I've been training.

This is all looking quite good.

On the other hand, Fred Kaplan at Slate sees Lincoln Chafee's vote for Bolton as the more telling indicator, and doesn't see a rush of Republican defections on the Senate floor:

And so, John Bolton lives another day—battered, bruised, and crippled, but it doesn't matter because all he needed to do was to survive today, and, now that he's done that, he'll almost certainly be confirmed as the next U.N. ambassador.

I tend to think Kaplan's right. The UN-needs-a-bully argument has not carried the day, even if its adherents can't be disabused of it. But loyalty to Bush, on a fight on which he's staked a lot, still goes a long way. And if the stop-Bolton movement can't get Chafee, how are they going to get a Senate majority?

posted by on 05.13.05 at 11:34 AM


The 'president should get who he wants unless the appointee is clearly corrupt, inept, or unqualified' argument stands. This is like the owner of a baseball team hiring a GM and then micromanaging who he is allowed to hire and fire. It doesnt work. An executive must be able to pick his leutenants if he is to execute his policy. That was how the system was specifically designed.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 05.13.05 at 11:34 AM [permalink]

US Politics can be that simple?

The analogy--like many analogies--is dreadfully inadequate. If our country was a dictatorship--like George Steinbrenner can be with his companies--then I would buy into it. However, we do have a check & balances system for a reason. This person will not only represent this Administration, but the country as a whole. I know that most people think Bush Administration == US's Will, but again, that is kinda too simplistic for the current political landscape.

Now, do I think there are more pressing issues that Mr. Bolton's--Real ID anyone?--appointment? Yes, but I would imagine that d*mn near most bureaucrats are "corrupt, unqualified, or inept." That is why they are bureaucrats, no?

posted by: Gaijin on 05.13.05 at 11:34 AM [permalink]

There's a practical aspect to all this. If Bolton is rejected, somebody similar, carrying the same message to the UN in the same non-gentlemanly way will follow.

Sorry. If Bush wants to say screw you to the UN, he has three + years more in which to do so. That's why the nomination will go through -- Chafee and the other moderates realize this. And, it's not like supporting a more conciliatory tone with the UN is something even moderate Republicans really care to do.

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 05.13.05 at 11:34 AM [permalink]

Precisely right. Bolton is only a proxie in this. This is really about 41 senators trying to force Bush to govern the way they want him to.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 05.13.05 at 11:34 AM [permalink]

I agree wholeheartily with A.M.'s argument about being practical about this appointment, and I wish that the "We're Not Bushies", err... Democrats could come get face time without grandstanding/saber rattling Bush and his choices.

However, about the "41 Senators Trying To Force Bush" argument--again--we are talking about US Politics, right? If the 41 Senators weren't trying to get their point/message/policies heard--if they had a quality message/point/policy to hear *sigh*--why even have a second party in our political system?

posted by: Gaijin on 05.13.05 at 11:34 AM [permalink]

Yalta, Yalta, Yalta. Bolton, Bolton, Bolton. And through all these highly partisan sniffs, what, precisely, have we learned from the Dems and Left/Dems that actually carries some moment, some gravity, with it?

If the present crop of Left/Dems had been elected to the halls of power around the time of WWII, they may have readily - even enthusiastically (e.g., Kerry and others vis-a-vis Vietnam and Nicaragua) - permitted Stalin to take everything he asked for, and then some, and indeed with enthusiasm. But if Stalin would have dared to put his hands on his hips and spoken brusquely to a subordinate - then watch out Uncle Joe!!! If we don't need a modern or post-modern version of a Miguel de Cervantes or an Aristophanes, then such a need has never existed.

posted by: Michael B on 05.13.05 at 11:34 AM [permalink]

I just tried to post the following on Greenburg's thread above this one - Lincoln's Been Thinkin' and received a repeated response that comments had been disabled on that thread (preview worked, but not posting).

Senator Reid's misconduct with the FBI files on a judicial nominee has changed the Senate's partisan tenor - GOP party discipline just firmed up because of Reid

Here's the related post that couldn't be made on the thread above:

There is no way the Democrats will appeal to moderate Republicans with Reid as the Democratic Senate leader. The guy is a motormouth. The Democrats can ditch him or continue to lose seats.

posted by: Tom Holsinger on 05.13.05 at 11:34 AM [permalink]

What is going on with Reid?

It looks like he is trying to sabotage his own successes-if you can call them that.

I think Voinovich wandering off really in the end might help to unify a Republican tent that had some looking towards the exits.

I was thinking twice about Conservative judges and this FBI file dirty trick has me saying loyalty first.

BTW- when Republicans attack Frist I think that is a mistake because we are at war [in two different countries]and I have had enough with the neo-ingrate, disloyal-Democrats.

It looked for awhile like the Republicans were catching that disease and not prioritizing the war effort. They seemed unconcerned with the message sent by the Democrats and their enabler- Vionovich when Cheney effectively said -"Don't mess with me on Bolton".

If you watched Frist yesterday I don't know who was more afraid of Byrd-Frist or Reid.

Frist was impressive and the most natural acting I have seen him.[he could lose the Napoleanic picture at his website]

He is up against some Democrats that are the most vindictive bunch I have ever seen.

posted by: madawaskan on 05.13.05 at 11:34 AM [permalink]

As far as I can see, the Democrats don't really care one way or the other about Bolton. They are just looking to bloody Bush, hand him a defeat, so that they can say he's a lame duck with no power. Nobody said politics was beanbag.

That's the charitable view, the one I can understand. The other view, that the Democrats wasn to strengthen the UN so that it can constrain the exercise of American power, is too awful to consider.

posted by: DBL on 05.13.05 at 11:34 AM [permalink]


You have a point. Frist looks Presidential compared to Reid.

Reid could not be doing a better job of uniting the Republican Party, and especially in the Senate. They should give him some more air time. Speaking of which,

The GOP should use Reid's breach of Senate confidentiality on the FBI files as an opportunity to lock the Democrats in here, by moving a resolution of condemnation in the Senate about it. This will force the Democratic minority to either repudiate their leader or ratify his misconduct.

It would be marvelous PR. Get Reid on camera in a stressful situation to maximize his opportunity to be Mr. Democrat losing composure in front of millions of people.

Furthermore if Reid isn't condemned, or doesn't then resign as minority leader, President Bush could then deny Democratic Senators access to FBI files on judicial nominees. What could the Democrats do then? They already vote as a bloc against, if not overtly filibuster, many nominees.

posted by: Tom Holsinger on 05.13.05 at 11:34 AM [permalink]

"If the 41 Senators weren't trying to get their point/message/policies heard--if they had a quality message/point/policy to hear *sigh*--why even have a second party in our political system?"

Because they are supposed to be coming up with 'ideas' and asking the American people to 'vote' for 'them' and get 'elected' to win a 'majority'. Let me ask a question: why bother spending a bunch of money to get your candidates elected to office when you expect to get your way without a majority?
Realistically I have no problem in the end because the Republicans are going to invoke the nuclear option and end this nonsense. But the Democrats will whine about that as well. Having a multiparty government does not entitle the minority to enforce its will. It enables them an opportunity to win the majority. Something the democrats just dont seem very interested in anymore.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 05.13.05 at 11:34 AM [permalink]

I'm guessing David Brooks got it right yesterday

That's because Bolton's job was to stand up for the president's policies.

The momentum has shifted on the Bolton nomination because John Bolton turns out to be a more complicated figure than earlier portrayed. It's become clear that earlier tales of him chasing women down hallways are unreliable. It's become clear that while he's abrasive, he is professional. If Senator George Voinovich reads these transcripts before he votes, I'm sure Bolton will be confirmed.

posted by: Bill Baar on 05.13.05 at 11:34 AM [permalink]

"The other view, that the Democrats wasn to strengthen the UN so that it can constrain the exercise of American power, is too awful to consider."

That's the only other view you can think of?

When the Soviet Union collapsed, that left the United States as the only superpower. If you are a balance of power theorist, that is a problem for every country except the United States. Now, a Republican might say, "Who cares if other countries have a problem with us. The whole point of being a superpower is that you don't have to worry about what other nations want." But we really cannot fight the entire world, and even if we could, we certainly shouldn't *want* to.

In my view, the only way for the United States to maintain and increase its power is to convince other nations that having the United States be the dominant world power is basicly a good thing, rather than a bad thing. If the best minds in most of the world, when they think about the United States, are thinking of ways to make the United States weaker, it's likely they will find ways to do that, at least in small ways. From what I've read, confirming Bolton as U.N. Ambassador would be one more step in the gradual weakening of American power.

By the way, many of Bolton's supporters complain about that the U.N. is too ineffective. So if you think that strengthening the U.N. is a bad idea, Democrats are not the only people you need to worry about.

posted by: Kenneth Almquist on 05.13.05 at 11:34 AM [permalink]

That's the only other view you can think of?

Well, I firmly believe that one should never attribute to malice what is adequately explained by stupidity... but if either one *is* the reason, I'm going to vote for someone else.

But we really cannot fight the entire world, and even if we could, we certainly shouldn't *want* to.

IMO, the main perk of being a superpower is that nobody else should want to fight us- y'know, deterrence.

I have no intention of rubbing every other government's nose in the fact that they're not a superpower and we are... but there's a fine line between that and pretending that the US is merely 'first among equals', which seems to be what some of the Euro crowd hope for. If the US is going to be the nation shouldering a burden for the benefit of all, it should be respected and deferred to accordingly, but if the US is merely first among equals, other nations should be contributing accordingly. It's one or the other, you can't have both.

That's my main problem with Suzanne's idea that other nations will contribute accordingly if the US will pretend to be first among equals- they don't have the resources. Not economically (Europe, for all the strength of the Euro, is stagnating economically), not militarily (the Brits can deploy about 15,000 troops overseas and support them... and they're the best in Europe).

As far as Bolton and the ineffectiveness of the UN is concerned, there is some unclear communication on that point. The real problem is that the UN is effective at frustrating the advancement of the US's interests, and the US's UN delegation is regarded as ineffective at getting the UN to advance our interests. I know they're good people doing a difficult job and all that... but the job isn't getting done, for whatever reason. Time to try someone else, and Bolton's as good a choice as any. If he doesn't get the job done, he'll be replaced, too.

posted by: rosignol on 05.13.05 at 11:34 AM [permalink]

As usual, Mark Steyn is right on target.

Money quotes:

"On the face of it, this shouldn't be a difficult choice, even for as uncurious a squish as Voinovich. Whatever one feels about it, the United States manages to function. The U.N. apparatus doesn't. Indeed, the United States does the U.N.'s job better than the U.N. does. The part of the tsunami aid operation that worked was the first few days, when America, Australia and a handful of other nations improvised instant and effective emergency relief operations that did things like, you know, save lives, rescue people, restore water supply, etc. Then the poseurs of the transnational bureaucracy took over, held press conferences demanding that stingy Westerners needed to give more and more and more, and the usual incompetence and corruption followed.

But none of that matters. As the grotesque charade Voinovich and his Democrat chums have inflicted on us demonstrates, all that the so-called "multilateralists" require is that we be polite and deferential to the transnational establishment regardless of how useless it is. What matters in global diplomacy is that you pledge support rather than give any. Thus, Bolton would have no problem getting nominated as U.N. ambassador if he were more like Paul Martin."


"When rent-a-quote senators claim to be pro-U.N. or multilateralist, the tsunami operation is what they have in mind -- that when something bad happens the United States should commit to working through the approved transnational bureaucracies and throw even more "resources" at them, even though nothing will happen (Sri Lanka), millions will be stolen (Oil for Food), children will get raped (U.N. peacekeeping operations) and hundreds of thousands will die (Sudan).

John Bolton's sin is to have spoken the truth about the international system rather than the myths to which photo-oppers like the Canadian prime minister defer. As a consequence, he's being treated like a container of Western aid being processed by Indonesian customs. Customs Inspector Joe Biden and Junior Clerk Voinovich spent two months trying to come up with reasons why Bolton's paperwork is inadequate and demanding to know why he hasn't filled out his RU1-2. An RU1-2 is the official international bureaucrat's form reassuring the global community that he'll continue to peddle all the polite fictions, no matter how self-evidently risible they are. John Bolton isn't one, too. That's why we need him."

Read the whole thing.

Needless to say, this assumes that the Dems are actually presenting arguments in good faith, which I most assuredly believe, they are NOT. Politics as usual, but ever more pathetic by the Dems.

posted by: Mike on 05.13.05 at 11:34 AM [permalink]

Let me see if I've got this straight: John Bolton is 'battered, bruised, and crippled' -- but is the bully in the scenario? I also don't think a tie is evidence of anyone's argument winning or losing the day, but there you are.

posted by: Achillea on 05.13.05 at 11:34 AM [permalink]

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