Well, at Least He Spelled My Name Correctly…

Via Stop The ACLU on the Bolton business:

Steven Taylor thinks we should recognize the Democrat majority and bow down to what they think instead of fighting for what we believe is right. He thinks it is all about partisan point scoring. I think that is insulting to those of us that support Bolton from our convictions. The world seems to be in an appeasing mood lately and we need someone like Bolton to counteract this.

Yes, that’s exactly what I said

For what it is worth, I opposed the recess appointment in the first place, so I am being consistent. I didn’t see this as “the” fight that many seem to think it was then, and I don’t see it as such now.

Given that most of the time no one gives a wet slap who the Ambassador to the UN is, it is impossible to ignore that a substantial part of this fight is very much about partisan point-scoring. Especially when one considers that the Right (who currently sees Bolton as vitally important to the war on terror) normally considers the UN to be worthless and would likely freak out if the UN actually was empowered. As such, I just don’t get Boltonmania.

Further, and perhaps at the core of this for me, I am a pragmatist. A snowball has a better chance in Hell than Bolton does of being confirmed. The facts are clear: the current Senate, which goes out of existence in six weeks, couldn’t get him confirmed when the Reps were in far better shape than they are now, so there is no way they can get him confirmed now. Further, once the 110th is sworn in the Democrats are in the majority.

What, then, is the point of this fight?

Additionally, even were he confirmed, he would serve a max of roughly two years. We aren’t talking a vital lifetime appointment.

As such I see all of this as a combination of not recognizing political reality and inflating the significance of both the man and the office. As such, it is all much sound and fury signifying, well, nada.

[Cross-posted at PoliBlog]

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. 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


  1. Wickedpinto says:

    You are NOT pussing out, and saying “give in bitches.” at least not as I read it. I’m an amateur at this whole DC spite thing, but I can still read english (writings a different thing) and I didn’t read any of that in you.

    Just thought I would say that.

  2. Unless you can point to some US blunders in the UN under Bolton that I am not aware of, I think at worse you could say he was competent and at best that he is a strong voice for pushing the UN to reform. As such, I think it may be worthwhile to make the democrats formally reject him (I agree that the chances of his being confirmed aren’t great). It can be revealing to see the excuses people make in rejecting a rational option.

    And o course, this is all partisan point scoring. The democrats objecting to him, the president appointing him in the recess appointment, etc.

  3. Tano says:

    It’s an emotional thing with them. Bolton is an ultra-hardliner, a true believer who is, and always has been resistant to the encroachment of reality into the neocon utopianism. At least in his rhetoric – few of us really know how he operates behind the scenes.

    At a time when the great cause is lying in tatters at their feet, and reality is being appeased even, perhaps, in the oval office, the support of Bolton is a last ditch effort to maintain the illusion that they might turn out to be the brave visionaries after all. His removal would be the final step in the purging of the ultras, except for Cheney of course…

  4. superdestroyer says:

    I think the best thing to do would be to let the recess appointment expire and just not name anyone else. Let a career diplomat be the acting ambassador for the last two years of the Bush presidency. I would guess that 99% of the public would never notice the difference.

    Who do the Democrats think would want a two year appointment to the UN in the last two years of a lame duck presidency?

  5. Wickedpinto says:


    The thing that made me look at the bolton thing was we were going through this charade of “No UN Authorization for the Iraq War.” Which could be said, we could also say that the authorizations already existed, but since we couldn’t get an ambassador into the UN to represent us with full faith of the president, then the senate was over-reaching (not the dem’s, and not the senate, but the senate foreign relations comittee) was deliberately encroaching on the authority of the executive.

    (just pulled that out of the tuech not bad eh?)

  6. Wickedpinto says:

    inflating the significance of both the man and the office.

    No statute of limitations on impeachment. Impeach Elenor Rosevelt!

  7. Anon says:

    I’m not sure if I would call them blunders, or just the general chaos of the Bush foreign policy, but often Bolton would say things that didn’t seem to be productive.

    For example, if we are trying to convince North Korea to stop working on nuclear weapons, then it makes no sense to make general threats against it. It is no different from parenting. You get the behavior you want (no nukes) by rewarding good behavior and punishing bad behavior. But if you make Kim believe that you are going to take him out no matter what, then what’s the incentive for him to stop?

    If he believes Bush will try to get him no matter what, then his only hope is to develop enough nukes, while the US military is tied up in Iraq, to deter Bush in the future, which is exactly what he seems to be trying to do. Evil and delusional they may be, but not completely stupid.

    I tend to lean left, but my real beef with the Bush administration (and associated Republicans) is competence and leadership. I think that attacking Iraq was not that beneficial to the war on terror, but, if we are going to do it, we should have done it right.

    Could the Democrats have done it any better? Maybe not, but then, they wouldn’t have tried. (Afghanistan, on the other hand, is a completely different story. I’m pretty sure that a Democratic president would also have launched a war against the Taliban, with probably about the same results.)

  8. Wickedpinto says:

    The false impression of diplomacy is that it accomplishes something.

    There is are only two things that diplomacy can accomplish. A sense of delay, or a sense of urgency.

    During the cold war there was no doubt that the US and Russia would go all out in their conflicts, which promoted a delay on both sides, because we scared the hell out of eachother.

    Iran is working on nukes, korea MIGHT have nukes, China is delaying so that they have an economic standard, korea and iran are delaying so that they can join the nuclear club full force.

    At this moment, it is important for western nations to experience a sense of urgency, to believe that any treaty, that any negotiations has ever worked for a final accomplishment is at best naive. Diplomacy is the equivalent of a pinky swear.

    Diplomacy is not an answer, it is a tactic, I really wish the peace at any cost crowd would get that.

    Also, every member of nato is technicaly still at war with Korea, we are just complacent in assuming that a constantly violated armistice is the same thing as a final peace.

    (I do believe that, though I didn’t articulate it very well)

  9. Wayne says:

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

  10. Anderson says:

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

    It would be a hoot, I grant you that ….

  11. cian says:


    Afghanistan was a no brainer and there was hardly a country in the world that couldn’t see the justification for it. The Dem’s as you say would have gone in. The difference? They would have stayed in and as a result the Taliban would not now be on their come back tour.

  12. Wickedpinto says:


    Noone should make those kinds of predictions, they are arrogant and stupid.

  13. Wickedpinto says:

    If John Edwards was VP, Chris reeve would be walking, steven hawking would be doing the tango, and Michael J. Fox would be an olympic gymnast.

    STUPID predictions on my part, and equally stupid predictions on yours cian.

  14. Wayne says:

    As I recall, most liberals were against the war in Afghanistan War until the Iraq war happen. The liberals’ talk about how difficult the terrain was, the Taliban defeated the Soviet Union, it was quagmire, etc.