20 June 2005

Recess appointment of Bolton is good for Democrats

Late this afternoon, the United States Senate voted to continue debate on the nomination of John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations. Earlier in the day, a frustrated President George W. Bush complained that the final vote had not yet occurred and implied that he would be willing to exercise his right to make a recess of appointment, essentially circumventing the Congress and installing his appointment without the constitutionally required advise and consent of the Senate. Republicans are grinning ear to ear, claiming victory. Democrats seem down in the dumps. It's the Democrats, however, who should be looking forward to this aggressive act by the president and should claim victory of their own.

In my previous post, I discussed how President Bush has lost complete control of the agenda in Washington. The nomination of John Bolton was sailing toward a smooth approval when the vote was derailed by a Republican, George Voinovich of Ohio. At around this time, information had surfaced that many members of the Senate found troubling. Allegations emerged that Bolton had threatened members of the intelligence community when they were unwilling to bend the truth. The most colorful story, however, was that Bolton badgered a woman in an international hotel. According to Ms. Melody Townsel, "When I was dispatching a letter to [US] AID, my hell began. Mr. Bolton proceeded to chase me through the halls of a Russian hotel, throwing things at me, shoving threatening letters under my door, and genuinely behaving like a madman. I eventually retreated to my hotel room and stayed there. Mr. Bolton then routinely visited me to pound on the door and shout threats." Now with the Bolton nomination on the ropes, President Bush is looking to skirt the rules and get his guy into the U.N.

Democrats should be salivating. Unlike the battle over judicial nominations where the Democrats have blocked appointments because the nominees were seen as outside the mainstream and too conservative, the Democrats have decided to extend debate on the Bolton nomination due to the actions of the White House, or should I say the "inactions." On behalf of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Joseph Biden (D-Delaware), the ranking Democrat on the committee, and Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Connecticut), have asked the White House to provide information pertaining to Bolton's current role as the undersecretary of state. The White House has refused. While the Democrats have conceded that Bolton has the votes to be approved, they have recognized their constitutional role in the nomination process and have requested additional information. The White House has denied this pertinent information from not only Biden and Dodd, but from the American people.

Democrats should just sit back and wait for Bush to act. The question that Democrats should be asking over and over is "What is the White House hiding?" As we saw the American people frown on the White House's conduct during the concealment of records from Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force, they will again voice their disapproval. As Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) stated on Hardball this evening, even Republicans Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and John McCain (R-Arizona) have acknowledged that it is reasonable to hold up a nomination if an administration refuses to turn over pertinent information and documents. Boxer stated that the White House is not saying the requests are inappropriate. They are simply stonewalling.

Voters generally dislike politicians, especially if they are dishonest. While no one can state with certainty that the Bush administration is being dishonest or that they are hiding anything regarding the Bolton nomination, the appearance of inpropriety is damaging to the White House's credibility. Democrats should exploit this fact.


Anonymous Cliff said...

The Republicans have successfully used the "obstructionist" accusation to their advantage. This is an opportunity for the Democrats to flip the tables on the Bushies. Point out that they are the ones who aren't playing nicely. They are the ones who are obstructing.

8:27:00 PM  

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