The surprise reversal of Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) on John Bolton’s performance at the UN prompted the White House to resubmit his nomination to the Senate for confirmation. With all of the trouble occurring in the Middle East and the ongoing failure of the UN to seriously reform itself, one would normally expect the Democrats to avoid the obvious political trap of obstructionism and allow the Senate to quietly confirm Bolton. However, Joe Biden has never let common sense dictate his actions, and he appears poised to snatch defeat from the jaws of apathy:
Senate Republicans on Friday set a date for a confirmation hearing on John R. Bolton, who is serving as United States ambassador to the United Nations on a presidential appointment, as the White House renewed its effort to secure Senate approval of Mr. Bolton’s appointment.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee announced that it would hold a hearing Thursday, and top Senate Republicans said they would move quickly to confirm Mr. Bolton. …
A spokesman for Senator Richard G. Lugar, the Indiana Republican and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said the Senate would probably vote on Mr. Bolton in September, after its summer recess.
Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said Thursday that the Senate should not vote on Mr. Bolton unless the White House turns over documents that the Democrats sought last year.
Biden wants to run for President again in 2008, and must think that blind obstructionism will grant him enough notoriety to boost his chances against Hillary Clinton. However, Biden shows that he has remained stuck in 2005. Opposing Bolton before he actually took the job had some intellectual basis; one could argue that he would prove himself incompetent and therefore should not receive confirmation.
Unfortunately for Biden, Bolton has performed masterfully in his tenure as US ambassador to the UN. He has demanded reform, spoken plainly about the lack of real progress in this regard, and yet has not alienated any nation through impolitic speech. He has worked hard to coordinate with the various democracies to pressure Kofi Annan into true reform. Lately, of course, his has been a voice of common sense regarding Israel, Lebanon, and Hezbollah. While Annan calls for cease-fires as magic solutions, it fell to Bolton to remind the world that terrorists do not recognize or honor cease fires, and that all Hezbollah and Lebanon had to do to end the military responses to their act of war was to return the two abducted soldiers and stop firing missiles at Israeli civilians.
Bolton has shown none of the supposedly abusive behavior of which Senate Democrats accused him. Biden wants to reopen that entire debate by demanding paperwork that does not relate to Bolton’s appointment once again, this time after Bolton has already proven his worth in the position. Biden would rather have no US voice in the UN at this critical juncture than to recognize that his caucus had Bolton completely wrong the last time around.
What kind of Senator would want that result? What kind of Presidential candidate would campaign on the basis of supporting the UN but blocking the administration’s representative to it during this time of crisis? Biden once again shows that he lacks the capacity for his current position, let alone the Presidency, both in intellect and in honesty.
Don’t expect too many of his caucus to attempt to force a filibuster to block Bolton. This time around, they will only expose themselves as obstructionists, dangerous obstructionists in a time of war. Bolton has already shown them up once, and the Democrats would be well advised to avoid it a second time.