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Marc Ash: John Bolton Is Not a Moderate

John Bolton Is Not a Moderate

By Marc Ash
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Tuesday 31 May 2005

I've been watching over the past few days with a mixture of shock and awe at the redefining of moderation in the Senate. Within minutes of the Democrats' successful bid to extend debate on the Bolton nomination they were being attacked in print for ruining the wonderful spirit of "cooperation" that allowed three right-wing ideologues to become federal appeals court judges for life.

If I've been reeducated properly I guess this would mean that if all of George W. Bush's nominees are confirmed then the Senate is operating in the warm sunshine of bipartisan cooperation. However if the minority moves to oppose any nominee -- for any reason -- then you have "partisanship." Forgive me, but that would be the unavoidable conclusion.

OK let's try to be positive about this. Sure, bickering and fighting gets dull quickly. It would indeed be nice if men and women of moderation could regain the helm on Capitol Hill. However, This Just In: John Bolton is not a moderate. Far from it, Bolton proudly displays a golden hand grenade on his desk to punctuate his reputation as a "bomb thrower." To fully appreciate the breadth and scope of Bolton's fervor it's important to view the video of his performance at the 1994 Global Structures Convocation in New York. Having viewed it before is not enough, the mind has a tendency to push into the background what it finds painful. Be strong, view it again.

Now for some really crazy talk. The Senate is not supposed to rubber stamp the President's nominees. No it's true they're not. In fact the Senate is supposed to act -- hold on to your bran muffins -- independently of the White House. Continuing on a roll here, heaping heresy upon blasphemy, the entire purpose of the confirmation process is to hold up to scrutiny prospective appointees, guaranteeing that the power of the executive branch is held in check. Lest those daft among us mistake this for a monarchy.

It's not like we don't have a clear precedent for bipartisan cooperation in confirming a moderate nominee by this White House to be U.S. Ambassador to the UN. The man John Bolton wants to replace is John Danforth. Two Johns, two different worlds. Danforth by every measure a true moderate, albeit a Republican moderate, was rapidly embraced on both sides of the Senate aisle, his confirmation process a mere formality. In fact not only was Danforth quickly confirmed, but a clearly audible sigh of relief was heard on the Senate floor as it happened.

Danforth, however, could only stomach six months as a member of the Bush Administration and departed in January. For whatever reason the White House then found it more expedient to veer sharply off the path of moderation. Enter John Bolton, [stage far-right.] The partisan drama we now see unfolding in the Senate is a direct result of George W. Bush's decision to name a highly partisan nominee.

We asked TO Resident Sociologist Forest Gump for his take on these developments. He commented, "Partisanship is as partisanship does." In summary it would seem excruciatingly obvious that moderate nominees naturally inspire moderation in the confirmation process. As that is not the case with Mr. Bolton, opposition - quite rightly - rises.


You can send comments to t r u t h o u t Executive Director Marc Ash at:

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