The Politics of Bolton

Writes Michelle Malkin:

The Democrats want John Bolton’s scalp. This is a moment for conservatives to stand up to the Left’s empty, vindictive obstructionism and support a strong voice for America’s interests at the corrupted, soft-on-jihad offices of Turtle Bay.

Or, maybe it’s time to recognize the following:

1) The Democrats won the elections, and hence as per the Constitution, the new majority has the right to reject a nominee of the President.

2) Beyond the current election, the Senate has built-in powers given to the minority party. This is not unreasonable, given that a given majority may not actually represent a majority of citizens. As such, there are solid democratic (notice the small “d”) reasons to give the minority in the Senate certain protections. I sometimes get the impression that some would like to do away with the advise and consent power of the Senate.

3) If Clinton (or Gore or Kerry or any other Democratic president) had appointed someone to the position as a recess appointment over the objections of the Republicans the same bloggers and pundits who are so outraged about the opposition to Bolton would be making the exact opposite arguments that they are making now (i.e., how dare the President bypass the Senate, etc.).

4) John Bolton is not the indispensable man who has to represent the US at the UN or all is lost. It is not impossible for the President to find someone else.

5) If the argument now is continuity, President Bush could have avoided the issue had he found someone else to nominate once it was clear that the only way to get Bolton into the job was a recess appointment.

6) The President gambled that the GOP would have a good midterm result when he gave Bolton a recess appointment, and he lost that bet. When you lose a bet, you have to pay up.

Also, I must confess, given all the time that is spent arguing about the impotence and insignificance of the United Nations, I have to wonder about all the emotion and energy over Bolton.

Further, I would argue that this is ultimately about partisan point-scoring far more than it is about the core necessity of Bolton’s work at the UN.

[Cross-posted at PoliBlog]

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Steven Plunk says:

    I feel the advise and consent role of the senate has been abused. Bolton is qualified and carries no baggage such a scandalous past incident. The executive should be able to choose his team without partisan meddling by the Senate.

    Keep in mind that if Bolton were given a straight up or down vote he would have had a majority for confirmation. But senate rules (not the constitution) allowed that vote to be blocked.

    If we want an executive branch that can enact a coherent strategic policy then nominees should be confirmed in all but the most extreme circumstances.

  2. You do recognize that by that standard a Republican Senate will never be able to block a Democratic President’s nominee for anything unless there is corruption or some other very serious problem.

    On balance, I tend to concur that Presidents should get whom they wish, and far and away, they do (this President included).

    In regards to Bolton, however, the outrage is not commensurate to the situation.

    Also: Bolton would not pass an up or down vote in the new Senate, making the situation moot in any event.

    Further, I would point to #4 in my list.

  3. Don McArthur says:

    Charles DeGaulle – “The graveyards are filled with indispensable men.”

  4. Wickedpinto says:

    Also bolton has a record that is being treated with a kind of respect, I agree with plunk about the last time around, the committee’s overrode advise and consent several times in recent years, and senate rules interfered with advise and consent.

    I’m not a lawyer, but if somethings in the constitution, it’s more significant than a senate rule, thats just my basic urbane opinion.

    I agree completely though, bolton isn’t the only man for the job, but odds are, the new senate will not allow anyone that the president would prefer to pass through, at least not commitee. I think bolton, if he got out of committee would pass the floor vote. Lieberman and Webb makes 50, cheney makes 51-50. It will be the committee and chafee blocking him, not the senate.

  5. Patrick McGuire says:

    All this discussion could be ended very simply by having the Senate vote on this appointment. If he gets rejected by the Senate, end of discussion!

  6. Dave Schuler says:

    I agree that the Senate should defer to the president’s judgment more than it does and that the Supreme Court should defer to the Congress more than it does.

    I also think that it was great when the Dodgers were in Brooklyn and Coca Cola was made with sugar rather than corn syrup. All of those days are gone and there’s no use in mourning them too much.

  7. legion says:

    Bolton is qualified and carries no baggage such a scandalous past incident.

    Unless you count all the times he sold dope disguised as a nun

    And by the way, does anyone else here remember the GOP’s blithe tossing-about of a so-called ‘nuclear option’ to take filibustering off the table for certain subjects? About how people on both the left _and_ right went on about how unutterably stupid that threat was, given that _someday_ the Dems might just be in the majority again?

    [snark]Welcome to someday, bitches…[/snark]

  8. Wickedpinto says:

    Would anyone in the senate support a member of the executive reviewing those staffers of theirs that require security clearences?

  9. wickedpinto:

    Two points:

    1) Executive offices are the ones who provide security clearances, but that isn’t the issue here.

    2) The Constitution vests the Senate with the power to reject a Presidential appointment. That is simply the way it works.

  10. Wickedpinto says:

    Steve,

    I knew point one before I mentioned it, thats why I mentioned it.(being a smartass)

    and I was gonna rehash the “a comittee is not the senate” but thats been flogged already.

    I do still think it makes more sense. Just as Patrick said “take it to a vote, and it’s over” but “the senate” has been circumvented by “senate rules” which is different from “The Senate.”

    I don’t really care much, but there just seemed to be a lot of gaming with this stuff in the recent years (though I guess they got rid of the “blue card?” or whatever it was called for judicial nominations? where any senator from the state of a nominated justice could arbitrarily hold any nominee, so I guess I’m just a newcomer (not to mention an amateur))

  11. Anderson says:

    I also think that it was great when the Dodgers were in Brooklyn and Coca Cola was made with sugar rather than corn syrup. All of those days are gone and there’s no use in mourning them too much.

    Heh!

  12. Wayne says:

    If they don’t confirm Bolton then Bush should recess appoint Rumsfeild to the position.

  13. Bithead says:

    Further, I would argue that this is ultimately about partisan point-scoring far more than it is about the core necessity of Bolton’s work at the UN.

    Which could also be taken as the Democrat party’s rejection of Bolton is down to political point scoring as well, no?

  14. Which could also be taken as the Democrat party’s rejection of Bolton is down to political point scoring as well, no?

    Absolutely.

    But then again: so what? It is like saying “he hit me first”. I don’t excuse the Democrats in this, but I am being pragmatic here: there is no way the Bolton is going to get confirmed, so why not move on to something else?

  15. Bithead says:

    Addendum;

    come to think of it, that’s what annoys me about all of this. The democrats are after style over real substance. What we have in that chair right now, is substance. Someone was actually willing to represent the United States and its interests. That’s not what the democrats what.

    THere’s that ‘t’ word again….