It’s official: John Bolton has been sacrificed. The question is, how far will the dagger plunge into the back of America’s foreign policy interests?
President Bush has accepted Bolton’s resignation after the recess-appointed UN ambassador was unable to secure a vote in the Senate. The Left, led by a vindictive Lincoln Chafee eager to get back at the president he blames for his much-deserved defeat, refused to bring the Bolton nomination to the floor.
Unlike the first stormy Bolton hearing, there was little question he would have been confirmed this time. In April 2005, it seemed unlikely Bolton could be referred out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. This time, Sen. George Voinovich, R-OH, dropped his once-lachrymous opposition, and even if Chafee voted no, he could have been referred to the full body on a tie. According to White House spokesman Tony Snow, 58 senators had pledged to confirm Bolton – two too few to keep the Legislative Branch Left from consolidating its grasp on foreign policy.
All the Left’s campaign talk of the coveted “power of oversight” notwithstanding, at this crucial moment in world history, the United States is without representation in the world body, because the Senate refused to perform its duty to “advise and consent” the president vis-à-vis his appointments.
For Bolton, no good deed went unpunished. “John Bolton’s been a tireless advocate for the United States at the UN,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino accurately recounted. Bolton helped cap the UN budget in the wake of the Oil-for-Food scandal, freezing funds until it adopts reforms to curb its endemic corruption. This should be a top priority for a party committed to expanding the scope, mandate and authority (and naturally, the budget) of the world body over its member nations. (John Kerry once said, “I'd like to see our troops dispersed through the world only at the directive of the United Nations.”) He has undertaken exhaustive efforts to see the United Nations addresses the twin nuclear threats of Iran and North Korea. Bolton also advised against endorsing the “new” UN Human Rights Council, dominated by Amnesty International superstars like Cuba, China, and Saudi Arabia. Although he was branded a firebrand, “kiss-up/kick-down” roughneck by his Senate opponents in 2005, his “consensus-building style” should have humiliated them. Instead, he is now seeking another position, while they continue to man the levers of power in Washington. His eventual successor will note well the assurances he must make – and the policies he must pursue – if he wishes for a longer tenure than his predecessor.
These are the first fruits of the Democratic Party’s bitter plan to micromanage President Bush into an Iraqi surrender – sorry, “strategic redeployment to a safer position.” In the coming two years, the new Congressional titans will unleash increased filibusters, obstructionism, independent counsels, impeachments, and open-ended investigations against whomever continues to buck their desire to throw American prestige and the nascent Iraqi democracy under a bus.
Aside from cutting off funds in the midst of a war, constitutionally the Congress has little power over a war already in progress, an area reserved since the days of Washington, to the commander-in-chief. The time for Congress to speak was before the invasion, when Congressional Democrats, lacking the courage to vote their beliefs, voted for the war before they voted against it. Now they seek to hand the terrorists the greatest propaganda victory since the withdrawal from Somalia. Bin Laden regularly cites that, along with Vietnam and Lebanon, as his two main inspirations. A Baghdad caliphate would furnish international terrorism with a recruiting message beyond compare.
President Bush need not surrender the political battle. He could have appointed (or could still appoint) Bolton as “Acting United Nations Ambassador,” allowing him to remain in Turtle Bay for 210 days. Bush could strengthen his own negotiating power with another recess appointment of a “hardliner,” as I outlined here. If Bolton were re-nominated two months after the recess appointment of Alexander Haig, Jeane Kirkpatrick, or Jesse Helms, he might appear more palatable. And it would serve notice to the surging Capitol Hill leftists that the president had joined the battle to preserve his own role in setting American foreign policy.
After Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation, some suggested Bush would offer Bolton as his second blood sacrifice to the Democratic Party Left.
If Bolton is replaced by Jim Leach or a Robert Gates clone, the Bush Doctrine’s cause of death may safely be classified as suicide.