Bush nomination to UN post faces bi-partisan problems

Sunday, April 24, 2005

File:John Bolton State Dept.jpg
Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton named North Korea as a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction in a speech at the American Center in Tokyo on Oct. 27, 2004

George Bush's controversial nominee for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, John R. Bolton, seemed stalled as new allegations surfaced in the Senate Committee's second interview. Lawmakers from both parties, particularly Democrats, express strong reservations.

Democrats argue against Bolton

"He wants to be our top diplomat at the UN but his life has been something less than diplomatic," Dick Durbin, the number two Democrat in the Senate, said on a Sunday talk show.

"He wants to work with people around the world. And he couldn't work with people in his own office. And he's supposed to be open, as our man at the UN, to ideas from other people," Durbin said.

"He's been a real tyrant when it came to people he worked with, who disagreed with him. This man doesn't have the temperament for this job."

There was no consensus Thursday whether the Senate committee should ask Bolton to return for more questioning. He testified for eight hours and presented a written draft on other questions, but the stream of allegations has only intensified, as well as a characterization of him as a boss who mistreated fellow workers and lost his temper frequently.

Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said Bolton would be hobbled in the job because of the allegations raised during the confirmation hearings. Dodd spoke on CBS's "Face the Nation."

Dodd maintains the Democrats raise objections to Bolton because of evidence he twisted intelligence analysis to fit his personal views. He said Bush should consider withdrawing the nomination.

"There are plenty of other good people who embrace his ideological views," Dodd added.

Republicans divided

But some Republicans had a differing view. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) thought Bolton's "forceful" personality made him the ideal candidate to lead U.S. efforts to reform the UN. He put little concern into Bolton's alleged personnel problems, saying that Bolton's supposed history of trying to get analysts who disagreed with him fired were unproven. McConnell is the second ranked Senate Republican. He was also speaking on the CBS program.

Lincoln Chafee, Republican Senator of Rhode Island, has said he is "less likely" to vote for the nominee as a result of the questions that are being raised about his credibility. Instead he sought out the opinion of former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Powell's spokeswoman, Peggy Cifrino, said he returned calls Thursday to senators who wanted to discuss questions that have been raised about Bolton. Powell was the only former GOP secretary of state who did not sign a recent letter endorsing Bolton for the job. It is known that the two did not get along during Powell's tenure in the Bush Administration. Powell's former chief of staff has been quoted by the US press as saying Bolton would make an "abysmal ambassador."

Some Republicans in Congress are doubtful that Bolton will win nomination now that the vote has been pushed back to May 12 to allow more time to investigate his history. Speaking on CNN television Senator Arlen Spector, R-PA, said the odds on Bolton were "too close to call."

Bolton criticism of UN

Some wondered what Bush's reasoning could be for nominating Bolton for the UN post since Bolton acknowledged saying in 1994 that the UN headquarters in New York "has 38 stories. If it lost ten stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference."

Also in 1994, Bolton said, "There is no such thing as the United Nations. There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world, and that's the United States, when it suits our interest and when we can get others to go along." [1]"

In response to criticism of these statements at his hearing, Bolton replied, "There's not a bureaucracy in the world that couldn't be made leaner."

Presidential support

It appears to trained observers that Bush may have to yield his nomination to a Senate rejection. Behind the scenes, Bolton may be facing a question of withdraw or be pushed out. As President Bush asked Senators to support his nominee, Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said he strongly supports Bolton, but "I can't speak for all of (GOP) leadership."

President Bush continues to support his nominee, according to Whitehouse spokespersons. In an April 20 news briefing, press secretary Scott McClellan said in response to a question whether the Bolton nomination was lost, "No, absolutely not. I think what you're seeing is some Democrats on the committee trumping up allegations and making unsubstantiated accusations against someone the President believes will do an outstanding job at the United Nations. He is someone who has been an effective manager, a strong diplomat who has gotten things done. And I think he's earned the respect of many people that he has worked with because of what he's done....people are playing politics with his nomination....He's exactly the kind of person we need at the United Nations during this time of reform."

On Sunday, White House spokeswoman Christie Parell, said the president is standing by Bolton as his nominee. "The president believes he's exactly the man needed at the United Nations," she said in reply to Dodd's comments.


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