WASHINGTON — The nomination of John Bolton as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is coming before the Senate again.
Bolton is serving as U.N. ambassador in a recess appointment, which means his term runs out at the end of the year unless he’s confirmed by the Senate when the lawmakers take up the nomination in September.
He remains a controversial figure.
It’s quite clear that the Bolton style has incurred resentment at the U.N. and alienated friends that the U.S. may need when it tries to line up votes on Middle East issues. Their support is also needed on such other issues as tough sanctions against North Korea and Iran for their nuclear goals.
Despite the frustration and resentment he has evoked in the post, Bolton has the strong support of President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, both of whom thinks he is doing a “terrific job.”
He also has picked up the support of Republican Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio, whose opposition to the nomination last year was one reason the Senate never voted on whether Bolton should be confirmed. Bush then resorted to a recess appointment.
Also working in favor of his confirmation is the current instability in the Middle East where Bolton is dealing with pressures to end hostilities between Israel and Lebanon.
“This is not the right time to depose the chief American diplomat at the U.N.,” one of Voinovich’s aides said.
Furthermore, the aide said that Voinovich has changed his view of Bolton, who he now sees as a “team player” and a “good soldier” following orders. “He’s not going off on his own, or he hasn’t done it lately,” the aide added.
In an article in The Washington Post last week, Voinovich said he believes Bolton has proved himself. “In recent weeks I have watched him react to the challenges involving North Korea, Iran and now the Middle East, speaking on behalf of the United States,” Voinovich explained.
Another advocate, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., noted that the “vitally important matters confronting the United Nations Security Council such as Iran, Darfur, North Korea and Israel’s efforts to combat terrorism demand steadfast action and leadership.” McConnell concluded that “Bolton is the right man for this job.”
Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., a constant critic of the U.N., said that in order to get the world body to reform, “you have to push, you have to be assertive.”
“John Bolton is the right kind of change agent in a universe resistant to change” he said.
But two Democratic senators — Joseph Biden of Delaware and Christopher Dodd of Connecticut — are unimpressed with Bolton’s performance in the post.
Dodd told CNN Monday “this is going to be a bruising fight. I regret this. I’m sorry the administration wants to go forward with this.”
Biden said “instead of wasting time and playing politics, the administration should nominate someone else to take Mr. Bolton’s place.”
Senate Democratic leader Harry M. Reid of Nevada said he will consult with other party leaders on how strongly they will oppose the nomination. But he claimed Bolton “has done nothing to set himself out as somebody that should be approved by the Senate.”
A neo-conservative, Bolton previously served in the State Department as assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs.
His abrasive manner made him many enemies. Bolton’s scornful remark that 10 floors of the U.N. headquarters building could be lopped off without being missed was widely noted. He also was contemptuous of career State Department officials who challenged his views in the past.
Bolton is a blunt-speaking lawyer, not a diplomat. He is not a schmoozer and skips the traditional niceties of diplomacy. He feels he has a mission to shake up the world organization which the Bush administration once disdained but now needs. Bolton may now know that the day is past when the administration can go it alone.
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