April 20, 2005
Is there a chink in the armor?
Republicans appear to be backtracking a bit on two issues that should have been dispensed with quickly. Tuesday, Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee agreed to delay the confirmation hearing of U.N. ambassador nominee and alleged serial abuser of underlings John Bolton for at least two weeks. Over in the House, Republicans on the ethics committee said they were ready to open an investigation into alleged wrong doing by House Majority Leader and judicial attack dog Tom DeLay.
It would be nice if this signaled a softening of GOP smugness, but most likely it is merely politics as usual.
For example, concerning the matter of DeLay, even though four of the five Republicans on the ethics committee seemed to agree to vote for an investigation, part of the reason could be an attempt to break a gridlock. Ever since Republicans unilaterally changed ethics rules last year, in what some have said was an effort to shield DeLay from any ethics investigation, Democrats have gummed up the works so the ethics panel has yet to begin work in this new year. Any investigation cannot proceed until Democrats end their stalement over the rules. If the Democrats do end the stalemate, nothing guarantees that the Republicans must vote to investigate.
As for Bolton, the White House is still standing behind his nomination. White House spokesman Scott McClellan on Tuesday: "John Bolton is exactly the person we need at the United Nations at this time." Bullies, and the more testimony that surfaces suggests Bolton is that and more, should never be put in positions of delicate diplomatic posts.
We can hope that Republicans have come to their senses and agree that tact must outweigh attack-dog and bully tactics. But a new wrinkle has been added to Bolton's nomination.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday: "I continue to believe that John Bolton would be a really great U.N. permanent representative."
Wait a minute permanent representative? What is she thinking? That Bolton should be selected for life, like the pope? Well, some have suggested that Bolton's hard-driving personality was very similar to the new pope's personality when he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. By the same token, several Vatican observers labeled Ratzinger, before the conclave, and other cardinals who aligned themselves with him, as the neoconservative cardinals.
Of course, all this speculation plus $2.49 might get you a Starbuck's tall latte, as long as Bolton and DeLay were not the barristas, berating you for ordering a wimpy latte or labeling you an activist coffee drinker.