“We hope the new vice president will not reverse his commitment to the Senate’s constitutional authority.” Uh, the new one? What about the old one? First it was Karl Rove discovering the virtues of executive transparency. Now the walrus and the carpenter of Dubya apparachiks, Johns “Bomb Iran” Bolton and “Torture at will” Yoo respectively, actually have the temerity to sing the praises of congressional oversight in foreign policy. “If Mr. Obama were to submit either of these agreements for approval by a simple majority of the House and Senate, his actions would pose a serious challenge to American principles of law and democratic governance.” Oh, a “serious challenge” to law and democracy, eh? These assholes have no shame.
In not-unrelated news, the Dubya White House shuffles its deck to make ready for divided government, replacing failed Supreme Court bid Harriet Miers as White House counsel (likely in favor of someone more aggressive, so as to counter Dem subpoenas), kicking national intelligence director Nicholas Negroponte over to State (to be replaced by Vice Admiral Mike McConnell), appointing Thomas D’Agostino as new nuclear chief (the old one, Linton Brooks, seems to have been of the “Brownie” school of management), putting Iraq ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad in John Bolton’s former position at the UN (his job goes to Ryan Crocker), and overhauling their top military team in Iraq. As the WP‘s Dan Froomkin reads the tea leaves, “I see a possible theme: A purge of the unbelievers.”
Happy day at the UN (if not at the White House): Facing unbeatable opposition on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (thanks to outgoing Senator Lincoln Chafee, to his credit, joining the Dems against him), interim UN ambassador John Bolton is forced to resign as predicted. Good riddance. “‘The president now has an opportunity to nominate an ambassador who can garner strong bipartisan and international support and effectively represent the interests of the United States at the United Nations at a time of extraordinary international challenge,’ [incoming committee chairman] Biden said. ‘If the president nominates such a person, I look forward to scheduling hearings promptly in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.‘”
“I never saw a real enthusiasm on the Republican side to begin with. There’s none on our side.” The next GOP casualty of the 2006 elections? If the Dems can hold off a vote through the lame-duck Congress, it might just end up being UN rep John Bolton. “The White House formally renewed its request that the Senate take up Bolton’s nomination. But Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Democrats, said they continued to resist Bolton’s confirmation and ‘he is unlikely to get a vote any time soon.’” Update: To his credit, outgoing Senator Lincoln Chafee, who earlier announced his opposition to renewing Bolton, is sticking to his guns and siding with the Dems against Dubya on the issue. So Bolton looks to be gone in December…Koo koo kachoo.
“So, here we are. The two major powers in this confrontation are led by blunderers; the provocateur is a chronic miscalculator. It doesn’t look good.” Oh, so there‘s the WMD: As John Bolton pushes for aggressive sanctions at the UN against the Kim Jong-Il regime, Slate‘s Fred Kaplan parses several ugly scenarios that could unfold after North Korea’s nuclear gamble on Monday (the same day, coincidentally, that South Korean Ban Ki-moon won official Security Council backing to replace Kofi Annan. Looks like he’ll be working overtime right out of the box.) By the way, if you’re keeping score at home, Dubya & co. now seem to have grievously mishandled all three prongs of the “axis of evil” trifecta. Sigh. That’s great, it starts with an earthquake…
“It is no secret that I have serious questions about this Administration’s policies in the Middle East.” Desperate to shore up his maverick cred before the GOP primary next week, Sen. Lincoln Chafee puts a hold on the GOP’s planned Bolton coronation. (Of course, the UN would never have had to put up with Bolton in the first place were it not for Chafee’s capitulation last year.)
More grim news in the world-going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket department: So, obviously, there now seems to be a full-fledged firing war going on between Israel and Hezbollah, one which has already set back Lebanon years and threatens to bring in Syria and Iran as official combatants (a.k.a. Hezbollah‘s main backers) if it keeps up. For his part, other than having Bolton spike a UN resolution condemning Israel for “disproportionate use of force,” Dubya has been basically AWOL in terms of world leadership — in fact, he’s been more effusive about a German pig of late than he has a conflagration that threatens nothing less than full-scale war across the Middle East. Where have you gone Bill Clinton, our nation turns it lowly eyes to you?
“‘The suspicion is we would undermine the policy,’ said one of the officials who have felt sidelined. ‘That is what all of us find most offensive. We are here to serve any administration.'” Career State Department officials tell of a punitive “reorganization” by Dubya political appointees to “punish long-term employees whose views they considered suspect“…and to close a back door channel that once bypassed ideological wingnut John Bolton. “About a dozen top experts on nonproliferation have left the department in recent months, with many citing the reorganization as a reason.”
Well, that’s that, then. As expected (and although he may be late to the party), Dubya has appointed Bolton to the UN ambassadorship by fiat. Well, the Dems pushed as hard as they could on this one, and only George Voinovich ended up seeing the light. Shame on supposed moderates Lincoln Chafee and Chuck Hagel for letting this freakshow get out of committee in the first place.