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June 25, 2005
Roberts: Enough Is Enough On Bolton

Senator Pat Roberts, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair who has tried to act as an intermediary between the White House and the Senate Democrats on the confirmation of John Bolton as ambassador to the UN, pronounced that he's had enough of Democratic obstructionism on the topic. The New York Times reports that Roberts now has urged Bush to cease negotiating on Bolton and give him a recess appointment instead:

The Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Friday that it would be a mistake for the White House to bend further to Democratic demands related to John R. Bolton's handling of intelligence material.

In an interview, the chairman, Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, said he now expected that President Bush would grant a recess appointment to Mr. Bolton, whose nomination as ambassador to the United Nations has been blocked by Senate Democrats for more than a month. ...

Mr. Roberts had sought until now to serve as an intermediary between the White House and Senate Democrats in the matter. But he said he believed that the administration had gone far enough, and that a recess appointment expiring in January 2007 and perhaps renominated after that, would be preferable to the potential security risks of providing Congress with wider access to names in the N.S.A. reports.

Those risks became clear during the debate over filibusters on judicial confirmations when the Minority Leader, Harry Reid, started basing accusations of unfitness from secret FBI files on Judge Henry Saad. After that cheap shot at Saad, who not only couldn't use the file to exonerate himself but can't even look in the file to see what Reid meant, the White House has become very skeptical about providing the Senate with any classified information it doesn't explicitly need. Roberts' committee has already seen this data, in any case, and has already told the Senate that it saw no issue with Bolton's actions.

No one thinks that further concessions will change any votes on Capitol Hill. Giving in on the intercepts will then create more demands for even more information, extending Bolton's filibuster even further. As the Democrats have demonstrated, they have decided to blockade most of Bush's political nominees as an overall strategy to paint the GOP as radical and out of touch as its theme for the 2006 campaign. It's a foolish and destructive strategy, as the 2004 campaign proved, but they're sticking with it until they get grown-up leadership with enough imagination to come up with something better.

At any rate, Bush doesn't need to play into it by feeding the failures in the Senate's Democratic caucus. He should give Bolton the recess appointment that will end this particular circus, and the next filibuster that occurs -- especially on one of his political appointments -- should result in a broader Byrd option to eliminate the filibuster on all executive confirmations. If the Democrats can't learn how to operate in the proper role of the minority instead of mindless obstructionism, then the GOP needs to start playing hardball. The quest for "comity" has been completely one-sided and should be abandoned.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 25, 2005 9:24 AM

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