Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 25, 2005
WAR: That Big Meanie John Bolton

You would have to labor long and hard to come up with a crueler parody of the modern Democratic party than the opposition of Democrats to a male appointee to a serious national security position on the grounds that he is too hard on his subordinates or is a "bully". (See here for a typical example of this rhetoric). Yet, somehow, that is where they have found themselves with John Bolton. Andrew Jackson must be rolling over in his grave.

Look, most people have worked for difficult or abusive bosses at some point in their careers; nobody likes them, and they can in many cases be counterproductive. But most of us also understand that the more serious the task and the higher the pressure, the more leeway you give a guy who gets results, and when you are talking about national security, the balance ought to tip decidedly towards getting the job done. This PTA-focus-grouped attack is all too reminiscent of the cringe-inducing line Dick Gephardt used over and over again during the 2004 primaries about how Bush "would get a mark on his report card: doesn't play well with others." Um, Dick, we're not talking about kicking over a tower of blocks here.

And Democrats wonder why they lost men by 11 points in the last election. From the election results you can infer that women didn't buy this either, of course, but I suspect that this sort of thing - placing politeness above effectiveness - has a particularly strong fingernails-on-the-blackboard effect on men.

(Of course, it's not like Bolton groped the woman who's complaining about him, or drove her off a bridge; that would be just plum dandy. For that matter, these same self-appointed anti-meanie brigades were strangely silent when Kerry and Dean were the Democratic front-runners. But John Kerry would never act badly towards subordinates, and Howard Dean would never yell at anyone).

For a twofer, Democrats have somehow allowed themselves to be publicly maneuvered, against what must be their better judgment, into the posture of defenders of the corrupt, hypocritical, anti-American, anti-Semitic United Nations. Win-win!

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:19 AM | War 2005 | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)

I'm pretty sure the Dems had nothing to do with Voinivich and Hagel expressing doubts about Bolton or Colin Powell questioning Bolton as a good candidate (or Powell's COS saying that Bolton would be an awful pick). In fact, if not for the Republicans on the FR Committee, Bolton would've been nominated.

So while it's easy to blame Democrats, they're certainly not the reason he didn't get the job. They made more noise over the Ashcroft nomination and look how that turned out.

Posted by: CP at April 25, 2005 8:16 AM

Gimme a break, Crank. People on BOTH SIDES of the aisle have BIG problems with Bolton. It's just that the lock-step Republicans are more content to rubber-stamp undeserving or unqualified nominees.

I happen to think that the Bolton nomination should not be the #1 priority for the Dems right now. The fact that so much opposition has been raised from the right has actually modified my stance somewhat. Many current and former Republican officials have been quite forthcoming with the fact that they are uncomfortable with this choice, might not support him, plugging their nose, etc. that should mean that there is something to the concerns.

Your post completely misrepresents the legitimate opposition to Bolton by some, and the genuine concern from others, that Bolton is not right for this job.

Perhaps the most damaging and damning attacks on Bolton have come from Powell, and lifelong Republican servant Carl Ford, Jr., widely respected head of the State Dept's widely respected Intel Unit, you know, the only Intel Agency to have proven correct about anything over the last five years...

Go read this piece for a good primer on why Bolton doesn't deserve the job. And its not just because he's a "meanie"

I know Bush partisans like you have a hard time acknowledging that the Administration is ever in error, even on a subjective and relatively unimportant issue like this. But it is possible (like in the case of Kerik) that Bush just tabbed the wrong guy. The difference, in this case, is that they tabbed the wrong guy on purpose.

It might be exciting for you guys to think that Bush is sending some ass-kicker to get those pussies at the UN in line, but that's not what the job entails. Aside from the fact that Bolton is a jerk, that his record of "getting things done" is actually pretty flimsy, especially of late, the simple fact is, his job is to be a diplomat, an part of that job is actual diplomacy, something Bolton is clearly incapable of...

[from the story linked above] Ambassadors practice diplomacy, and one part of diplomacy is getting people to do what you want them to do. There are, in general, three ways to do this. The first is pure persuasion: convincing the other party that they should do what you want them to do. The second is to offer them inducements for doing what you want. The third is to threaten bad consequences if they don't do what you want.

John Bolton would have a much more difficult time than most people engaging in pure persuasion. He has, after all, said that the UN doesn't really exist, that its actions should be largely dictated by the US, that no other country should have a seat at the Security Council, and that the US should use it when it suits our purposes and otherwise ignore it. [...]

Inducements are out: Bolton has said "I don't do carrots", and his record suggests that we should take him at his word. But that leaves only threats in his diplomatic repertoire; and working with only one of the three available tools of diplomacy is like wrestling with all but one of your limbs tied behind your back. [...] There are times when we should use threats, but the idea of having no other means at our disposal is really not a good one.

Posted by: Mr Furious at April 25, 2005 10:46 AM

Even Tony Blair wants nothing to do with this guy.

[MSNBC] ...On several occasions, America's closest ally in the war on terror, Britain, was irked by what U.S. and British sources say were efforts by Bolton to undermine promising diplomatic openings. Perhaps the most dramatic instance took place early in the U.S.-British talks in 2003 to force Libya to surrender its nuclear program, NEWSWEEK has learned. The Libya deal succeeded only after British officials "at the highest level" persuaded the White House to keep Bolton off the negotiating team. A crucial issue, according to sources involved in the affair, was Muammar Kaddafi's demand that if Libya abandoned its WMD program, the U.S. in turn would drop its goal of regime change. But Bolton was unwilling to support this compromise. The White House agreed to keep Bolton "out of the loop," as one source puts it. A deal was struck only after Kaddafi was reassured that Bush would settle for "policy change"—surrendering his WMD.

So one Bolton's "successes" as the guy in charge of anti-proliferation actually occured in spite of his efforts not because of them. He pretty much blew it on all other non-proliferation issues (N. Korea, Iran, Pakistan, loose nukes...)

Keep on towing the Bush line, Crank.

Posted by: Mr Furious at April 25, 2005 11:13 AM

I don't doubt that Bolton has made enemies among others in the Administration, and I don't question that the Democrats have other reasons for opposing Bolton. But making these arguments about his dealings with subordinates is just pathetic.

Also, I note that disagreeing with Powell is not necessarily the same thing as disagreeing with United States policy. I suspect that in more than a few cases, his disagreements with his superiors put him on the right side of their superiors.

Posted by: The Crank at April 25, 2005 11:33 AM

This is a perfect commentary on how Team Bush works. If men and women of good conscience and substance discredit an individual based on actual evidence that they may not be the right person for the job Team Bush will happily eat those individuals. Carl Ford has been called every name in the book at this point by GOP Inc. and we all know the standing Powell has within the machinery. Of course these people were "enemy makers" and "operating outside of American policy". Basically if Rove and Cheney like you it does not matter what the hell anyone else thinks or how you acutally perform. This is the type of operation in which only the fanatics, theocrats and complete kiss-asses can thrive.

Posted by: jim at April 25, 2005 12:12 PM

Except for his benefactors (ie: Cheney), Bolton has made nothing but enemies. That aside, the critiques levelled at Bolton are not merely payback from former subordinates he wronged. That is the only issue you want to tackle because it fits your case that those on the left or in the Democratic Party have nothing else to go on (ie: mindless partisan obstructionism). It is simply not the case. Almost everyone who has given this an honest assessment has been left with the conclusion that this guy is not the best choice. It seems to me that the Republicans on the Committee and those chiming in are the ones acting with blind partisan motivation ahead of the actual interests of the country.

Jim is right, Bolton is the personification of this problem. As long as he does Cheney's bidding, tells Cheney what he wants to hear and attacks anyone who counters that, he is going to get a job with this Administration.

Posted by: Mr Furious at April 25, 2005 2:50 PM


"This is the type of operation in which only the fanatics, theocrats and complete kiss-asses can thrive."

glance down at your hymnal. you left out "...brownshirted rapturist serial baby seal clubbers." no MoveOn.organist worth his salt would content himself with a mere kiss ass theocrat slur.

but on the merits of things, i agree with all of the tremulous high minded critiques given above. rudeness and back stabbing are clearly not the way to go up in Turtle Bay. one must remember to hold one's pinkies JUST SO when confronting the undisguised fascist chairman of the UN Committee on Human Rights or whatever

Posted by: Mr. Spurious at April 26, 2005 8:42 AM


Your comments on Bolton remind me of the sort of crap dished out by Rush Limbaugh: create a straw man argument and then attack it. Bolton is attacked not only because of his personality but because he is accused of manipulating intelligence. This is a serious charge and frankly not foreign to the Bush administration.

Posted by: Steve at April 26, 2005 9:04 AM

Oh, please. If you admit that this is such a red herring why are the Democrats wasting our time with it?

Posted by: The Crank at April 26, 2005 10:30 AM

The Dems are not just focusing on Bolton's personality. See today's NYT front page: "John R. Bolton clashed repeatedly with American intelligence officials in 2002 and 2003 as he sought to deliver warnings about Syrian efforts to acquire unconventional weapons that the Central Intelligence Agency and other experts rejected as exaggerated, according to former intelligence officials".

In some ways, I hope Bolton actually gets confirmed. Probably not much a UN Ambassador can do to make things worse in the world, but the bonus is that he will probably embarass himself and the Bush administration, if the administration is actually capable of getting embarassed.

Posted by: Steve at April 26, 2005 11:30 AM

It is great when the members of GOP, Inc. really don't have anything to say about a topic other than strange rantings written by (apparently) an e.e. cummings want-to-be (or someone not bright enough to know how to use capitalization).

Posted by: jim at April 26, 2005 12:30 PM

Hey Crank,
Got any reasons why Bolton should be nominated/approved? Do you actually think he deserves this post?

Posted by: Mr Furious at April 26, 2005 1:05 PM

I wondered what kind of asshole would support the Bolton nomination. Now I know. Thanks, Crank.

Posted by: terri's tube at April 27, 2005 9:29 PM
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