Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Bolton's Recess Appointment

President Bush has used a recess appointment to send Ambassador John Bolton to the UN. This is a correct use of presidential power specifically provided for in the Constitution.

As I said in Vote "No" on Bolton" I don't think he's the best man for the job. However, I understand the President's reasoning. He selected and nominated Bolton, and the Senate failed to act on the nomination. If there had been an up-or-down vote, Bolton would have been confirmed. Even though there were a majority of senators in favor, a minority determined to obstruct the President at every opportunity kept it from happening. What's worse, a weak-kneed majority leadership didn't have the nerve to force the Senate to act.

It was like a game among children. The losers threw tantrums, then took their ball and went home. They miscalculated. Turns out someone left on the field had some balls, too.


Blogger John Walter said...

Turns out someone left on the field had some balls, too.

Oooooh. I wish I'd said that.

11:49 AM, August 02, 2005  
Anonymous JJR said...

I don't disagree with you that Bush has the power to make this appointment. I also don't disagree that this is not a post that should have remained empty for so long.

I agree with you that Bolton is not the right man for the job, but that it's the president's decision to make and congress' to day yes or no.

My only problem is that I think some of the critics of the appointment are right - the fact that Bush had to make it a recess appointment may (knowing the UN probably will) make Bolton's job that much harder and lessen his ability to do his job because of the (insert word of your chi=oice her) perceptions of the other UN members.

12:39 PM, August 02, 2005  
Anonymous Richard said...

I think the losers in the case are the administration. They couldn't get their candidate through the Senate and just wanted to stick out their tongues by making an interim appointment.

I am confident that a person like Bolton doesn't change his stripes too easily and will start to offend his new colleagues as soon as he opens his mouth.

The other losers are the Republican senators (Hagel, Chafee and Murkowski) who don't think Bolton is right for the job but are willing to rubber stamp the president's choice and the party line instead of voting their conscience.

Perhaps the Republican senators only have one ball to share, and only one of them can use it at a time. It must be Sen. Voinovich's turn.

1:18 PM, August 02, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

JJR and Richard, you're stating your political views, and that's fine. However, the issue here is one of a broken process in which a minority has been allowed by the majority to obstruct the business of the Senate. Here's what The Washington Post said about the appointment in an editorial:

...having thwarted the usual process under which the Senate gets to vote on a president's nominee, it takes a bit of chutzpah for Democrats now to cry foul at Mr. Bush's decision to exercise his other option. ... Democrats had every chance to muster the votes to defeat the nomination; they couldn't do it. If Mr. Bolton is now heading to New York without the Senate's imprimatur but with a figurative asterisk beside his name, that's only because, having failed to defeat him, a minority refused to lose gracefully.

2:05 AM, August 03, 2005  
Anonymous JJR said...


I wasn't trying to make a political comment, and I tend to agree with your view of the system, etc. (especially since Bush still has over 30 recess appointments to make to catch up to Clinton's total number).

My purpose was to show that there is some legitimate concerns overhow Bolton's appointment will be seen (rightly or wrongly) by the other parties at the UN. I think the entire episode exposes the pettiness and sillines of our elected representatives, whatever side you happen to believe in.

9:16 AM, August 03, 2005  
Blogger Kevin said...

Here's a thought...

Perhaps that week-kneed majority represented a coerced political majority only.

Word on the street was that many of even the Senate Republicans didn't think Bolton was the right person for the job, as Richard alluded to. What I got reading between the lines in comments by Republicans on the Sunday morning talk shows was that it was more than just Chaffee, Hagel and Murkowski that didn't want Bolton

6:13 PM, August 03, 2005  
Anonymous Richard said...

Hi Tom, my intention wasn't to state my political view, but just to disagree with your assessment that the Republicans won and the Democrats lost on the issue of Bolton.

I think that both sides understood that if Bolton's appointment didn't go to the full Senate before the recess that there would be an interim appointment. I don't think the fact that Bolton is now in New York makes the Republicans winners, as you seem to imply (maybe I misunderstood). I don't think the game is yet over.

There were two points I was trying to make: 1) the Republicans, even with a majority (however slight) in the Senate, were not able to get Bush's nominee through. They proved to be ineffective at accomplishing their goal. The minority Democrats prevailed in this case as they prevented, or at least delayed, an obviously horrible nominee (you even agree with this) from getting Senate approval.

My second point is that three, if not more, Republican senators think Bolton should not be approved yet are will to vote for him anyway. This action shows that they do not have enough courage to vote the way they think and that they are willing to rubber-stamp anything that comes out of the White House. I think that they will lose a lot of credibility with their constituents and thus come out as losers in this case.

[note to readers: I am not a member of any political party and have in my lifetime voted for both Republicans and Democrats]

1:23 PM, August 04, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

I think the loser in this case is clearly the Senate. If they had enough senators who opposed Bolton, then they should have voted him down. Either way, he should have gotten an up-or-down vote. What we really need is better leadership in the Senate in both parties.

Whatever Bolton has been accused of, he's never been said to be stupid. And neither is the President. Don't be surprised if Bolton does a sterling job at the UN, being very careful at the same time not to say anything to ruffle anyone's tender feelings. That would completely deflate the Democratic opposition, making them look silly and petty. Just watch.

4:45 PM, August 11, 2005  

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