Skip to comments.A Turning Tide for Bolton
Posted on 05/11/2005 10:25:28 PM PDT by neverdem
Usually the bug dies. When a presidential nominee is treated like an ant under a magnifying glass under the noonday sun, when he has the full scrutiny of the media and Congressional investigators focused upon him, he usually gets incinerated.
But over the past two weeks John Bolton's confirmation prospects have gotten stronger. What happened?
On April 19, Bolton's nomination was knocked off-track by Senators Chris Dodd and Joe Biden at a Foreign Relations Committee hearing. They made powerful presentations against Bolton, which clearly spooked several Republicans. So investigators were dispatched to interview dozens of Bolton's colleagues to get a deeper view of his conduct.
The interview transcripts suggest that Bolton could behave in a "fairly blunt manner" and that some people felt "undue pressure" to conform to his views, as John Wolf, a former assistant secretary of state, testified.
But they also reveal that Bolton has a professional sense of limits. He'd push his views, and push hard. But after he'd had his say, he would almost always bow to the dictates of the organization.
Here's an exchange between investigators and Robert Hutchings, a former chairman of the National Intelligence Council:
Q. After Mr. Bolton blew up, or reacted strongly, as you put it, when he heard that a lot of the Cuba judgments had been modified, did he do anything? What happened? What did he do after that?
HUTCHINGS This issue, it sort of went away. ... That was the end of it.
Q. He didn't seek to go behind your back and change these?
A. Not as far as I know. Those judgments were what they were, and--
Q. He let them stand.
A. Let them stand, yeah.
Here's an exchange with Wil Taft, a former legal adviser to the State Department:
Q. Is there any instance that you can recall where Secretary Bolton did not agree with your advice and sought to undermine it or otherwise ignore it?
Q. So even though he may not have agreed with it, that's what the lawyer says, so that's what you've got to do?
Here's an exchange with Colin Powell's chief of staff, Larry Wilkerson, about suggestions that Bolton change the text of a speech he was giving on nonproliferation issues:
WILKERSON There were changes.
Q. But - were those changes accepted?
I could fill most of this page with exchanges of this sort. And I'm not even quoting from the interviews with Bolton's supporters. These transcripts show a man who was trying to advance a point of view while still generally operating within the bureaucratic structure of the State Department.
The speeches he gave on controversial subjects were generally cleared. Nobody was fired because of him. Nobody's career was damaged.
The other thing the transcripts reveal is that many fights over clearing speeches were not about intelligence - they were about policy. The speech-clearance process was the policy-making process. Often when Bolton was pushing back at his colleagues, he was trying to defend the president's policies from dissenters at State.
For example, Larry Wilkerson believed that America's Cuba policy was "the dumbest policy on the face of the earth," as he told GQ. He disagreed strongly with the idea of imposing sanctions on arms proliferators, as he told Senate investigators.
So when he challenged Bolton, Bolton would bend on most matters, but not on policy.
As Wilkerson himself told the Senate investigators: "There were some problems, on a number of occasions, with Under Secretary Bolton's proposed remarks. I found him to be, at that point, basically receptive to my changes that were culturally sensitive. ... I did not find him to be receptive when we talked about policy changes, fundamental policy changes in his speeches."
That's because Bolton's job was to stand up for the president's policies.
The momentum has shifted on the Bolton nomination because John Bolton turns out to be a more complicated figure than earlier portrayed. It's become clear that earlier tales of him chasing women down hallways are unreliable. It's become clear that while he's abrasive, he is professional. If Senator George Voinovich reads these transcripts before he votes, I'm sure Bolton will be confirmed.
RINOs spooked by their own shadows.
I'm looking forward to the live thread of the Foreign Relations Committee debate. I just hope it ends better than the last one. I recall almost swaggering confidence, then suddenly there were cryptic entries such as "?!", "Voinovich!", "RINO traitor!", etc. For the next one, I'd much rather see "Bolton!" and "Look out, Kofi!" And instead of a laughing Boxer, Biden and Kerry, we will see them burst into tears.
(Denny Crane: "Sometimes you can only look for answers from God and failing that... and Fox News".)
I think the Dems overplayed their hand badly. They are so used to people just rolling over at this point. But if they actually believed what they've been saying about Bolton, why would they think that would be the case with him? If he's such a hardass (gee, can't have that when he's supposed to be standing up for us in the UN), why would he bend for Babs Boxer?
I am beginning to believe that when the anticipated April 19th vote was (apparently) thrown off track, it was a deliberate ploy by the Republicans. The Republicans wanted to be careful not to look like they were running over the lowly Democrats (ie., the weak underdogs) like a freight train. They did not want to look like bullies. Nobody likes bullies.
All this furrowed-brow chin-rubbing is designed to make the GOP Senators look cool, calm, collected, patient, and deliberative.... as well as compassionate toward their beleaguered Democrat "colleagues". I think George Voinovich either went along with this or drew the short straw (remember how he came out of the blue with his "reservations"?) knowing all along that he would vote to confirm Bolton.
Now, the Republicans can say that after a painstakingly careful review of the "issues" surrounding Bolton which were raised by the Democrats, it is clear that THERE IS NOTHING TO THEM.
I don't think it was calculated. Rather, it is that the current GOP leadership has a way of playing things towards their strengths. Take a hit, come back stronger.
And the dems can't make any of their lies stick...
I don't think they really expected for their lies to stick. Their game is to destroy someone but at least bloody everyone they can't destroy. If you show even a hint of weakness the Dems and the media will pounce. Stand up to them and they just shrug and say, "Oh well, it was worth a try." What they did to their target they just consider political collateral damage.
Yer givin' the 'Publicans a heckuva lot of credit fer strategery and wiliness. While I think the President is often misunderestimated, I'll wait until Bolton is CONFIRMED before giving the Senate Pubs attaboys.
The author, David Brooks, formerly wrote for the Washington Times, and then the Weekly Standard, before he joined the Times. Now, he also has John Tierney joining him to write for the 'right' in Times' OpEd columns since April 12, 2005.
And the dems can't make any of their lies stick... I don't think they really expected for their lies to stick. Their game is to destroy someone but at least bloody everyone they can't destroy. If you show even a hint of weakness the Dems and the media will pounce. Stand up to them and they just shrug and say, "Oh well, it was worth a try." What they did to their target they just consider political collateral damage.
The Dems were stopped in their primary goal to defeat John Bolton but achieved their secondary goal...delay, divert, obstruct, and distract the administration.
Watching him debate a liberal is like watching a bobble head just nod. Brooks isnt a conservative but someone who is paid to espouse conservative views sometimes so PBS and the NY Slimes can claim they are fair and balanced. Look at Brooks on the issues he is pro-abortion,pro gun control,pro gay marriage etc., he is only conservative by NY Slime standards.
Brooks always seems dissapointed when Bush actually does something conversative.
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