August 02, 2005

Carrying a Big Stick and Speaking Loudly

Regardless of his failed Senate confirmation process, in spite of his obvious personal failings, and despite his professional arrogance and uncompromising views, the United States now has John "The Bully" Bolton has our Permanent Representative to the United Nations. George Bush, by making a recess appointment of Bolton, proves his disdain for the democratic process and Senate precedent, once again. What's good for the Republicans when they were out of power is not good for Democrats when they are out of power.

Here's how Scott McClellan responded to questions at yesterday's White House Press Briefing when asked:

Q So Senate confirmation really makes no difference in how he carries out his job?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think it's clear to everybody that he had the majority support of the United States Senate. But, unfortunately, a handful of Senate Democrats were intent on using partisan tactics to delay the nomination from receiving an up or down vote on the floor of the Senate.
Q How do you square that, Scott, with the opposition from folks like George Voinovich?
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me keep going on the first row, and then I'll come back to you, Carl.

Oops, let's not talk about any pesky Republicans who think Bolton is a disaster.

And then when it comes to his personal behavior, we have this:

Q A lot of people say that he was very sharp with subordinates and that he was tough and too hard on them. Does he intend to moderate his behavior in this new job?
MR. McCLELLAN: A lot of people that have worked very closely with Ambassador Bolton recognize that he is someone who brings a results-oriented approach to the position. If you go back and look at people who know him well -- like former Secretary of State Baker, former Ambassador to the United Nations Jeanne Kirkpatrick -- they recognize that he will be a strong advocate for the priorities that we want to see at the United Nations.

"Results-oriented" is now an officially nice way to say kicking ass. "Results-oriented" is the equivalent of chasing people down hotel corridors, yelling at them, and banging on their doors at all hours to get them to do what you want them to do. It will be interesting when he first loses his temper. Will he take his shoe off and bang it on his desk, a la Nikita Khruschev.

Bolton revealed his pathologically angry and, quite scary, side when he spoke on a panel about the United Nations (scroll down to The Bolton Scream).

But, in the end, as one reporter at the White House Press Briefing yesterday put it, Bolton begins his tenure as a "lame duck." Just how much impact he can have is questionable. He will, most certainly, be greeted with a cool diplomatic respect by most members, not the warm greetings for an American UN representative of a time gone by. If, however, he quickly pushes an agenda that tries to bully the Security Council and the General Assembly, as well as the Secretary-General, then he will be quickly isolated and contribute further to the diplomatic and political estrangement on the world stage.

Despite our very big stick, if we also speak loudly, nobody will listen.

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