Hazy Days in the Foreign Relations Committee

I haven’t yet seen a transcript of today’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the nomination of John Bolton as Ambassador to the U.N. But I just wasted an hour or two reading yesterday’s proceedings, which were, frankly, a joke. Almost no time was spent talking about Bolton’s views on the U.N.; to the extent that the Democrats commented on those views, they agreed with them.
Virtually the entire hearing was devoted to airing a dispute that Bolton had with an intelligence analyst named Christian Westerman. Despite spending almost the entire day on this “issue,” no light was shed. The Democrats were obviously trying to shoehorn Bolton’s dispute with Westerman into the paradigm of an official bullying an intelligence analyst into agreeing with the administration’s view of affairs–a paradigm, by the way, of which there is no known instance in reality. But the Democrats offered no evidence whatsoever of such an event.
On the other hand, Bolton kept repeating that Westerman had “lost his confidence” because he was not “straightforward,” and he read, more than once, from a letter by Westerman’s superior who said that Westerman’s conduct had been inappropriate and would not be repeated. But, despite having several opportunities to do so, Bolton never explained what Westerman did that was not straightforward, or inappropriate.
At the end of the day the entire episode was still a mystery, but a mystery having no apparent bearing on Bolton’s service as U.N. Ambassador. It was not a proud day in the history of the United States Senate. When today’s transcript becomes available, we’ll see whether matters improved any.

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