Advise And Consent Becomes Character Assassination

On Tuesday the New York Times reported that the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, would seek a delay in the scheduled vote on the nomination of John R. Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations.

Thanks to bumbling by the committee chairman, Senator Richard G. Lugar, Biden got his way.

Today the Wall Street Journal reacts to "The Bolton Mugging" by taking a look at the agendas of those mounting the smear campaign against John Bolton:

Look closely at Mr. Bolton's accusers, and you can see through the agendas. There is former State Department career official Carl Ford, who claims Mr. Bolton rudely disagreed with his policy positions. There is also Latin America-specialist Fulton Armstrong, whom Mr. Bolton allegedly tried to have fired. Never mind that Mr. Bolton was not the only senior State Department official to complain about Mr. Armstrong. Or that Mr. Armstrong's forgiving assessments of Cuba's Fidel Castro were influenced by the work of Ana Belen Montes, a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst convicted in 2002 of spying for Cuba. This is the testimony of career analysts who disagree with Bush Administration policy and want to show that any official who disagrees with the bureaucracy will have his own career ruined in Senate confirmation.

All of this is being orchestrated by Senate Democrats Chris Dodd and Joe Biden, who represent the foreign-policy views that lost the last election. More than that, they are carrying water for a foreign-policy establishment that tried desperately to defeat Mr. Bush and failed, but now wants to pin an embarrassing defeat on the President by humiliating a nominee closely associated with his policy. This is the same establishment that so believes in the mythology of "multilateralism" that it doesn't care if the U.N. was corrupted by Saddam Hussein's Oil for Food program. Mr. Bolton is a threat to their U.N. illusions because he wants to achieve actual results.

Senators Biden and Dodd are applying the same strtegy against Bolton that the Democrats have been successfully using to prevent President Bush from getting his judicial choices confirmed, keep it bottled up in committee. The Democrats are engaging in this tyranny of the minority because there is little doubt that should Bolton's or President Bush's judicial nominees be voted on by the entire Senate the nominations will be approved. Senators Biden, Dodd and Voinovich are abusing the advise and consent function of the Constitution. As the Wall Street Journal's editorial states:

This smear campaign is all the more offensive because it is designed to avoid a genuine policy debate. Mr. Bolton, who has worked as a diplomat in two different Administrations, is being sent by Mr. Bush to lead a reform of the U.N. that desperately needs it if it is going to be effective. His skills helped repeal the U.N.'s "Zionism is racism" resolution in the early 1990s, and more recently he ran the successful and innovative Proliferation Security Initiative that helped put Libya out of the WMD business. But Democrats don't want to debate that record, because they know they'd lose. So they have set about to destroy Mr. Bolton personally instead.

Besides abusing the Senate's advise and consent role, the Senators are also being hypocritical. Mr. Bolton is now being smeared with allegations about things that might have happened years ago. It reminds me of the Democrats unsuccessful smearing of Clarence Thomas. Some allegations maybe documented, such as The Cincinnati Enquirer referring to then Governor Voinovich as "Gov. Short Fuse," which was highlighted in Wednesday's Best of the Web Today. Other allegations may just be the time-warped recollections of the politically frustrated.

The U.N. desperately needs reform. As Dore Gold details in "Tower of Babble: How the United Nations Has Fueled Global Chaos," the U.N. is now dominated by anti-Western forces, dictatorships, state sponsors of terrorism. A tough, no-nonsense, effective professional diplomat like John Bolton can help achieve the needed reforms. Let the Senate consider the Bolton nomination.

Posted by Dan Spencer at April 21, 2005 11:29 AM