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The Tentacle


August 2, 2006

Confirm Joltin' John Bolton

Kevin E. Dayhoff

On March 7, 2005, President George W. Bush nominated Baltimorean John R. Bolton to be the United States ambassador to the United Nations. It is time for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - as well as the entire upper chamber - to confirm our Maryland-bred leadership in the U.N.

Nearly three months later, on May 26, Senate Democrats, led by Republican Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio and Democrat Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, blocked the nomination. Senators Hillary Clinton (NY), John Kerry (MA) and Harry Reid (NV) cheered them on. That information alone ought to tell you that Ambassador Bolton is the right man for the job.

In a move now considered prescient in light of the present state of turmoil in the world and the current emphasis on the United Nations as a conduit to address the challenges, President Bush installed Mr. Bolton as the U.N. ambassador in a recess appointment on August 1, 2005.

By law, interim Ambassador Bolton's appointment needs to be confirmed by the Senate by January 2007 or earlier.

Perhaps the son of a Baltimore firefighter is just what the planet needs. Ambassador Bolton grew up in Baltimore and graduated from McDonogh School in Owings Mills in 1966.

He attended Yale University where he received both his undergraduate degree, summa cum laude, in 1970, and his law degree.

You may recall that President Bush also attended Yale from 1964 to 1968. One wonders if they met.

If our country was confused in the late 1960s, it was in places like Yale that any sense of reality teetered on the abyss for even the most directed and determined of individuals. It was in this difficult and confusing time and place, that both President Bush and Ambassador Bolton developed a world view.

According to The New York Times, at Mr. Bolton's graduation in 1970, while other "student speakers compared the United States to pre-Nazi Germany," Mr. Bolton "sounded a contrarian theme."

Contrarian is a theme that has persisted throughout his entire professional career, perhaps learned at the kitchen table of his firefighter Dad. Firefighters, one of the remaining steadfast bastions of true American heroes, are not, as a rule, overwhelmingly preoccupied with being politically correct. They have a job to do - and so does Ambassador Bolton.

Yale in the late 1960s is where these two men learned that there are people in the world who will just not like you for reasons of their own petty projections that are unanswerable and beyond a meaningful response or significant reply.

It was at Yale that the seed was sown for them to understand that one can have bewildering enigmatic defeats and suffer disapproval without accumulating anxiety or frustration and to put the event in its place and proceed to move the ball forward.

This lesson reappears over and over again for both of them.

This is certainly the territory where Ambassador Bolton finds himself these days.

At a time in world history when an organization such as the United Nations, albeit born of utopian ideals, could make a profound difference, it is, to be politically correct, totally incompetent, incapable and dysfunctional.

To address this mess, President Bush wisely picked the eminently qualified his Undersecretary of State - John Bolton. Previously Mr. Bolton had served in President Ronald Reagan's and President H. W. Bush's administrations in the State and Justice Departments and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Before a tour of duty as a senior vice president for public policy research at the American Enterprise Institute, Mr. Bolton served as an assistant to James Baker when Mr. Baker was Kofi Annan's representative to the Western Sahara from 1997 to 2000. In 2001 President Bush appointed Mr. Bolton to be the Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.

To be the U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations, not even his harshest critics contend that he is unqualified. So, what's the beef?

It seems that while Ambassador Bolton has been racking up one accomplishment after another, critics worry that he does not possess the "interpersonal skills" of a diplomat. That he is "arrogant" and "bullying."

Brian Knowlton, writing for The International Herald Tribune, called Mr. Bolton "a blunt-spoken hawk with a history of skepticism toward the United Nations."

However, Michelle Malkin, writing on the first day of the hearings on Ambassador Bolton's re-nomination a week ago said: "It's not Bolton's 'interpersonal skills' that make him the man for the job. It's his commitment to putting U.S. interests first and always. And his willingness to ditch U.N. bureaucratese for blunt talk... Bolton's lifelong refusal to be a sycophant, apologist, and whitewasher makes him the necessary antidote."

However, perhaps the real "Washington insider" analysis of the drama in the Senate hearing room is that for four years, when Undersecretary of State Bolton was moving the ball forward in the Byzantine warrens of the petty Machiavellians in the State Department, it "required him to overcome considerable institutional inertia, ideologically motivated opposition and chronic bureaucratic skullduggery. He clearly bruised some egos," Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., wrote in The Washington Times on April 19, 2005.

Now, it's petty bureaucrat payback time and the morally limp liberals in the U.S. Senate are only too willing to oblige. Never mind the current state of world affairs, petty insider Washington politics always seem paramount.

But considering the current state of affairs on the world stage, Ambassador Bolton is exactly the caliber individual America needs to represent its interests in the United Nations.

It is time to put a firefighter's son from Baltimore, and a McDonogh graduate in the U.N. The growing conventional wisdom is that he has exactly the interpersonal skills needed to deal with the likes of France, North Korea, Syria, Iran and the radical jihadists of the world. God forbid they get their feelings hurt in the process.

He has served ably and now is the time to give him the Senate confirmation he deserves.

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster: E-mail him at: kdayhoff@carr.org



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