Souring on the Bolton situation

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is starting to sound a bit desperate over Bush's stalled U.N. nominee. But Democrats aren't wavering.


Page Rockwell
June 14, 2005 11:06PM (UTC)

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist announced on Tuesday that he intends (once again) to call a vote on John Bolton's U.N. nomination later in the week. He didn't sound all that thrilled about the situation. Speaking to reporters, Frist compared the U.N. post to a vacant motel room: "It's been 200 days that this vacancy sign above our U.N. ambassador's door in New York has been blinking. It is now time to end that." Frist gets points for leaving his listeners with a strong visual image, but we also get the sense that at this point he'd award the post to just about any gruff traveler that came along, if the Senate would just be done debating it.

Unfortunately for Frist, he may not have the votes to end the debate over Bolton. As the Associated Press pointed out on Tuesday, "Several Democrats would have to side with all Republicans to reach the 60 votes needed to go forward." And with the White House still refusing to hand over the classified documents they've requested, the Senate Democrats have made it clear they'll seek to prevent the vote from happening.

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White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan doesn't seem confident that Frist has enough votes to end debate. McClellan went with the usual blame-the-Democrats bluster at Monday's White House press briefing, saying, "Unfortunately, you have Democrats still playing stall tactics with this nomination[but] the American people I think want to see reform at the United Nations and that's why we need to get John Bolton confirmed." But when a reporter asked if Frist had sufficient votes to end the stalling, McClellan gave a very careful non-answer: "Let me go ahead. He has -- I think it's clear that he has majority support."

The opposition is offering some visual images of its own. With Bolton's confirmation still hanging in the balance, former Wesley Clark communications manager Aaron Ament is looking to sweeten the deal for Bolton opponents with a new initiative at StopJohnBolton.com. The site provides an anti-Bolton form letter for visitors to fill out and send to their senators with the click of a button; for every 5,000 signatures the site gets, the organization plans to send John Bolton a cookie cake with his own face on it, with the icing reading: "John Bolton: Is This The Face of America?"

"John Bolton thinks he can have his cake and eat it, too," said Ament in a press release. "Not only does Bolton think he is above following State Department And CIA intelligence reports, he thinks he can fire people who disagree with him on the issues."

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Page Rockwell

Page Rockwell is Salon's editorial project manager.

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