May 14, 2005

Bring On The Bolton Debate

Don't postpone a debate you know you'll win. Good advice from Bill Kristol.

The Senate leadership correctly understands that judges are the preeminent issue of the session. But that issue can wait for June, when it will set the stage for the forthcoming Supreme Court nomination. The time for the debate over Bolton, and the United Nations, is now. Thursday's Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Bolton suggested why. Chairman Richard Lugar definitively discredited the charges against Bolton's fitness for the job--not that this deterred Voinovich from repeating the bogus charges. But if this debate is repeated on the floor of the Senate, the fact that Lugar had the best of this argument will become abundantly clear. More important, the fact that Republicans have the better of the arguments on U.S. foreign policy, and on the United Nations, will also become clear. The nation will especially enjoy watching Bolton's Democratic critics join with Voinovich in explaining that we do not want a representative with--gasp!--"sharp elbows" at the U.N. and that the U.N.--and its member dictators--needs to be treated with kid gloves.

As we've argued before on this page, Republican senators should challenge their Democratic counterparts to debate John Bolton's record, and the U.N.'s record, every day, for as long as the Democrats want. The Bush administration should put senior spokesmen on TV every night to ask whether the U.N. is just fine as it is, or requires tough-minded reform. After one week of such debate, I suspect Democratic senators with competitive races looming in 2006--especially in states that Bush carried in 2004--might lose their enthusiasm for stalling Bolton. Frist could probably pull off a vote before Memorial Day. Bolton would win. Republicans would be out of the doldrums. And we would have a good U.N. ambassador, an ambassador who knows how that institution works--and doesn't work--and is knowledgeable about the very issues (North Korea's and Iran's nuclear programs) that are likely to dominate its agenda in the coming months...

...So let's have two weeks of debate on the floor of the Senate on John Bolton, U.S. foreign policy, and the United Nations. It will prove a valuable tonic for a White House and a Republican Congress that need a pick-me-up--and it will produce a result that will be good for the country.

UPDATE 5/15: Mark Steyn says John Bolton's problem is that he's unwilling to wink at the corruption and incompetence of the United Nations.

Posted by dan at May 14, 2005 11:31 AM