I also strongly believe that the president is entitled to have his people representing him and his policies. I think it would be a mistake to send some fawning, liberal internationalist to the U.N. in the wake of the Oil-for-Food scandal and the failure of the Security Council to enforce its own resolutions on Iraq. The U.S. needs to take the lead in reforming the U.N. so that it can live up to the goals and aspirations in its charter.
I definitely think John Bolton sends that message. Senate Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee don't agree however. It is, of course, their right to disagree. It is not, however, their right to deny the president his choice of representative to the U.N. based solely on ideological differences.
The advice and consent power does not give the Senate the power to veto presidential nominations. The framers of the Constitution gave the president sole power to nominate ambassadors, cabinet secretaries and judges.
The Founding Fathers debated long and hard on the role of the Senate in this process and in the end they decided that president should have pre-eminence. As John C. Eastman and Timothy Sandefur of the Claremont Institute Center for Constitutional Jursprudence put it:
"No one argued that the Senate's participation in the process should include second-guessing the judicial philosophy of the President's nominees or attempting to mold that philosophy itself. Indeed, such a suggestion was routinely rejected as presenting a dangerous violation of the separation of powers, by allowing the Senate to control the President's choices and, ultimately, intrude upon the judiciary itself...[The advice and consent power of the Senate] exists only to prevent the President from selecting a nominee who 'does not possess due qualifications for office.' Essentially, it exists to prevent the President from being swayed by nepotism or mere political opportunism. Assessing a candidate's 'qualifications for office' did not give the Senate grounds for imposing an ideological litmus on the President's nominees, at least where the questioned ideology did not prevent a judge from fulfilling his oath of office."
And yet ideology is what the Bolton confirmation fight is all about. The ideological differences here are simple and stark. One side believes that the U.N. is just one tool in an administration's toolbox and should be used to advance American interests. This view stems from the realization that the U.N. is a body that represents governments - each of which fights to advance their own interests.
The other side believes that the U.N. possesses some legitimate authority and stands above all nations of the world, and that the United States should subordinate its will to the U.N.
But the Democrats know they can't come right out and say that this fight is over differing ideologies, so they desperately fling dubious charges of "anger management problems" at Bolton in the hopes that it will stick. Essentially they are accusing him of being a big, fat meanie.
And while this is all very amusing, it's also totally irrelevant. What's important is how Bolton treats the people with whom he must do business (i.e., the other U.N. ambassadors) and how he articulates and executes the president's policies.
I always find it unfortunate when important people treat underlings poorly (and, by the way, it's far from clear yet that this is the case with Bolton), but if this were to become a disqualifying factor for public service or positions of great responsibility or authority, our pool of applicants would be reduced to kindergarten teachers.
President Bush needs to speak out publicly and forcefully for this nominee and not let this nomination go down to a combination of spineless Republican Senators (Chuck Hagel, Lincoln Chaffee, George Voinovich) and desperate Democrats.