Thursday, April 21, 2005

Ohio's Republican Senator Temporarily Saves Us From Abusive Bolton

It is comforting to know that someone on that side of the aisle is rational and truly committed to what is best for this country and has the courage to stand up to the Bush Bullies. Bet the Bush bullies beat the poor guy up. They are not forgiving or understanding people. Not by any stretch. DeLay and Frist are probably having their sheets ironed as I write. We should send Senator Voinovich a thank you note.

Found on the Chicago via Buzz Flash.,1,6607782,print.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed

Eroding support stalls Bolton vote

Republican requests delay, expresses doubt about UN nominee

By Mike Dorning
Washington Bureau

April 20, 2005

WASHINGTON -- Support for President Bush's embattled nominee for ambassador to the United Nations weakened in Congress on Tuesday, with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee postponing a vote on John Bolton's confirmation at the request of a Republican senator previously thought to be one of his backers.
An hour into a spirited debate on Bolton's confirmation and moments before a scheduled vote, Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) asked for the delay, saying he did not "feel comfortable" with Bolton and questioning whether the nominee was temperamentally suitable for the job.
The committee's staff will now take three weeks to investigate accusations that Bolton, a top State Department official, tried to manipulate intelligence on biological weapons, sought to fire espionage analysts who disagreed with him and harassed subordinates. One former contractor for the Agency for International Development alleged in a letter that Bolton chased her down a hallway in a Russian hotel a decade ago and threw things at her after she raised concerns about the performance of a contractor that Bolton at the time represented as a private attorney.
"There's enough here that has caused me to be concerned about how he treats other people. How we treat our fellow man is important," Voinovich said, explaining a decision that caught his fellow Republicans by surprise.
Republican swayed
Voinovich said he had come to the meeting prepared to vote for Bolton but was swayed by the often-impassioned arguments that Democrats made for greater scrutiny of the nominee, a rare instance of political debate changing a senator's position.
The postponement is a serious blow to Bolton's prospects, signifying deteriorating Republican support and providing additional time for opponents to make their case against his confirmation. The delay also raises the possibility that Bolton's nomination could be swept up in a looming confrontation over Senate approval of federal appellate judges that threatens to bring the body's work to a virtual halt.
Still, the White House said it remains firmly behind Bolton. "John Bolton is exactly the person we need at the United Nations at this time," Bush spokesman Scott McClellan said.
Shortly after the committee adjourned, Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) backtracked from previous statements that he was "inclined" to support Bolton, saying that he was now neutral on the nomination. He said his vote would depend on further examination of episodes of alleged harassment and manipulation of intelligence.
Asked if support for Bolton among Republicans is eroding, Chafee said, "That's accurate."
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) also said his support for Bolton was uncertain and would depend on the picture of Bolton that emerges, although he indicated during the committee's debate that he was prepared at the time to forward the nomination for consideration by the full Senate.
With Republicans holding a 10-8 majority on the committee and Democrats unified against Bolton, opposition from any Republican would doom the nomination. A tie vote keeps the nomination bottled up in committee.
Bolton, 56, currently undersecretary of state for arms control and one of the Bush administration's most caustic and deeply conservative foreign policy officials, was a controversial choice for UN ambassador from the start. He has been a harsh critic of the United Nations, once telling an audience that the world body would lose nothing by lopping off 10 stories from its headquarters in New York.
Unflattering portrait
But since his nomination, he has been linked to accusations that the administration manipulated intelligence on weapons of mass destruction, and testimony at his confirmation hearings has provided an unflattering portrait of a volatile and vindictive personality.
In an extraordinarily rare instance of public testimony by one senior official in an administration against another, former Bush administration Assistant Secretary of State Carl Ford Jr. last week described Bolton as "a serial abuser" and "a quintessential kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy."
Ford testified that a red-faced, finger-waving tirade that Bolton launched against a State Department biological weapons analyst who disagreed with him left the analyst in fear of losing his job and sent a chill through the State Department's intelligence branch. Ford said he fended off efforts by Bolton to dismiss the analyst and that the episode so concerned the department's analysts that then-Secretary of State Colin Powell made a visit to the intelligence shop to bolster morale.

Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune

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