Nuts and Bolton

The prevailing wisdom on the Bolton appointment is that his ability to do the job will be clouded by the fact that his own nation refused to endorse him to be its representative to the U.N., that he's "damaged goods."

Damn right he is.

And despite the fact that it would have been nice if Bush had appointed someone whose goal it was to work with the world to, um, work with the world, if it means that Bolton won't be able to pursue his and the administration's agenda to further isolate America, that may not be such a bad thing. A wash, as it were.

Here, courtesy of blogger Stygius, is a list of some reasons why Bolton shouldn't be appointed to paint the UN's walls let alone represent America (all links to supporting articles are in original, here):


  • his manipulation of intelligence for political purposes, and subsequent mischaracterizations to the committee
  • his indifference to genocide
  • his possibly perjurous claim to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Ambassador Hubbard supported Bolton's stupidly inflammatory speech that paralyzed diplomacy on the Korean peninsular for years
  • his unsubstantiated claims about other countries used to justify castrating America's agreements like the Biological Weapons Protocol
  • his attempts to undermine WMD disarmament talks with Libya, and talks with Iran while alienating the United Kingdom
  • his sabotage of US-Russia agreements to dispose tons of weapons-grade plutonium and chemical weapons
  • his insubordination at State, including preventing inconvenient intelligence from reaching his bosses
  • his involvement in passing off the unsubstantiated Niger-Iraq uranium story that helped propel the country into war
  • his neglect of and indifference to the Non Proliferation Treaty
  • his evident desire to maintain influence on policy in DC, despite senators being sold the nomination on the grounds that Bolton would no longer be a decision maker
  • his glaring "forgetfulness" on his SFRC nomination form
But let's just be crystal clear here: Bolton was going to the UN whether Congress or the American people liked it or not. Bolton himself knew it and Congress knew it. But Democrats chose to fight anyway.

Lord knows I'm a big critic of the Democrats. When people comment at parties: "How could people have voted for Bush?" I ask them, any of them, to name a position John Kerry took. One. Just name one, I ask ...

Point is not to diss Kerry; a good number of Democrats are guilty of this hemming and hedging. The point is that it's not only ethically bankrupt to avoid firm, or overly compromising positions, it's bad strategy. With their opposition to Bolton the Democrats are beginning to see the value in not compromising, in taking a stance and fighting for it.

Never mind that Bolton was confirmed ... for now, anyway. Despite administration cries that a permanent presence is necessary in that position, Bolton's one and a half year tenure makes him the substitute teacher of UN ambassadors.

More important was the course of the opposition: Evidence was gathered, strong statements were made, and eventually the man little known as anything but the keeper of an unappealing mustache was opposed by most Americans -- not to mention a few Republicans (does that sentence structure suggest that Republicans aren't Americans? Never was too good with syntax ... ).

Just look at some of the Democratic responses to the recess appointment and note the fact that even now they're not backing away from the ethical and rational center they've built:

Russ Feingold:
"Mr. Bolton is fundamentally unsuited for the job, and his record reveals a truly disturbing intolerance of dissent ... despite all of the warning signs and all of the red flags, the President has taken this extraordinary step to send a polarizing figure with tattered credibility to represent us ... the American people deserve better than John Bolton."
Jay Rockefeller:
"He is exactly the wrong person to send to the United Nations."
Harry Reid:
"It's an unnecessary result, and the latest abuse of power by the Bush White House."
Dianne Feinstein:
"John Bolton has placed his faith in a unilateral, go-it-alone foreign policy that has stretched our military thin, and I believe his inability to be an effective and constructive ambassador could produce dire consequences for American foreign policy."
In the long run the Republican machinery has a strategy for branding the Democrats and its adherents will swallow it. It doesn't much matter what the Dems do, the strategy isn't going to shift much. But maybe the Dems need to go back and get some of that good old fashioned schoolyard wisdom. If they call you a sissy for playing the violin, giving up the violin will not make the other kids think you're cool. Walk over to the one calling you a sissy, look 'em in the eye and play a kickass version of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." They still may not like the violin but they will respect you.

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