Thank you, sir, may I have another

Democratic senators punch away, but John Bolton stays mellow. Is this the same guy who's going to kick ass and take names at the U.N.?

Published April 13, 2005 11:06PM (EDT)

A number of John Bolton watchers have wondered about his mellow demeanor while taking a beating during this week's Senate confirmation hearings. Is this a kinder, gentler Bolton headed for the U.N.? Or, as Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold put it at one point, an "amazingly passive" Bolton?

With his confirmation no sure thing, thanks to Rhode Island Republican Lincoln Chaffee, the mustachioed macho isn't fooling his faithful cheerleaders. Ditto for blogger Marc Cooper, who says Bolton is using the classic rope-a-dope strategy. "I can ascribe Bolton's piss-on-you demeanor to only one thing," he says. "His White House handlers and coaches have certainly assured him that -- whatever -- the Republican majority on the committee will confirm him as will the greater GOP-controlled Senate. All the better reason to play rope-a-dope, quietly suffer through the hearings, and then prepare to take over his new position."

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that the Senate committee has delayed its vote (originally expected on Thursday) until next week. That might buy Democrats a bit more time to persuade Chaffee for his swing vote; the senator maintains that he's still undecided. But Chaffee has also signaled that he's leaning toward giving Bolton the nod. If he does, Kofi, et al., better turn off C-SPAN prepared to don the gloves.

By Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

MORE FROM Mark Follman

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

War Room