Saturday, December 09, 2006

Is Dodd Credible?

Way back in August of 2005, US Sen. Chris Dodd advised anyone who cared to take his advice that President George Bush should not appoint John Bolton as an ambassador to the United Nations while the Congress was in recess because Bolton “lacks credibility,” is “damaged goods” and “doesn’t have the confidence of the congress.”

In fact, no one knew at that point whether Bolton had “the confidence of the congress,” because Dodd and others, by means of what the media euphemistically had called a “filibuster,” kept the nomination from coming to a vote in the congress. The so-called “filibuster” was really more like a work stoppage, and if Bolton was “damaged goods,” the goods had been damaged largely by Dodd.

This is how clever senators assure that presidential appointments should not be made to the UN. First, by means of a work stoppage they prevent the congress, sometimes called “the greatest deliberative body on earth,” from deliberating and then voting on appointments. Then they demand from the administration information not likely to be surrendered for a series of legitimate reasons. Then they suggest that an appointee to the UN will, always and everywhere, act on his own initiative; when, in fact, they know that such appointees act always at the behest of the president and his advisors. This misperception of the role of a UN delegate, so named because his authority and instructions are delegated by others effectively, “damages the goods.”

If you are a clever senator, you are now able to claim with some plausibility that persons who are “damaged goods,” lack “credibility” and do not have the confidence of the congress should not be appointed as delegates to the UN.

Things did not work out quite the way Dodd intended. President Bush waited until congress adjourned, made a recess appointment, and Bolton found entrée to the UN by a back door.

Dodd had charged that Bolton tried to fire two analysts “because they wouldn't provide him with the intelligence he wanted to have on a speech he was going to give to the Heritage Foundation and some testimony he wanted to provide on different occasions.” These charges were answered by Bolton in eight hours of congressional testimony before the Intelligence Committee, but when the Bush administration refused to provide to congress the names of people involved in 10 telecommunication intercepts, Dodd and others “filibustered” the appointment. While the names were withheld, the texts of the intercepts were provided to the relevant heads of the committee. Both the chairman and the top Democrat on the committee said after their briefing that Bolton had done nothing wrong. Chairman Roberts said, “The names were irrelevant because, quite frankly, these intercepts, and he requested only 10 of them, I would describe them as almost pure vanilla.”

After a year and some months in service at the UN, it now becomes possible to answer Dodd’s hypothetical question concerning Bolton’s “credibility” as a UN delegate.

Following Bolton’s abrupt resignation from the post, columnist Robert Novak wrote of Bolton’s service “…the permanent U.S. staff there regards Bolton as President Bush's most effective U.N. envoy, his record climaxed by achieving a unanimous Security Council vote on the Korean question.” Bolton, acting at the behest of the Bush administration, was largely responsible for persuading China, North Korean’s patrons, to persuade “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il to stop behaving like Iranian President and wing nut Mahmoud Amidinijad on the matter of nuclear arms, no small accomplishment and one that could not have been achieved by a delegate that “lacked credibility” among his peers.

“Dodd's delight over Bolton's departure,” Novak continued, “is shared at the United Nations by anti-American Third World ambassadors and U.N. bureaucrats… Dodd, striking a pose of smiling affability, has been the driving force behind the assault on Bolton. An ardent supporter of normalizing relations with Cuba, Dodd is inexorable in blocking any nominee hostile to Fidel Castro's dictatorship. He kept Otto Reich from getting confirmed as assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs and now has done the same to Bolton.”

In the upcoming Democrat controlled congress, Dodd is scheduled in January to assume the chairmanship of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, and one can only hope that he acquits himself in his new position as well as Bolton has done in the United Nations.

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