This is bad news: Senator George Voinovich broke ranks today, along with Chuck Hagel, and forced his Republican colleagues to agree to an indefinite postponement in the vote on John Bolton’s nomination as U.N. Ambassador. This means the Democrats will have more time, probably around two weeks, to continue slandering Bolton and dredge up more dubious “witnesses” to accuse him of wrongdoing. Like looking at them with his hands on his hips.
The most ludicrous comment of the day came from Voinovich: “The passion on the other side on this, I don’t think is political.”
The Democrats’ assault on Bolton is reminiscent of their attack on Clarence Thomas. They say they have more “witnesses” ready to come out of the weeds and say that Bolton wasn’t nice to them. The moral of the story may be that it is career suicide for a Republican to take a front-line appointment in a deeply hostile environment like the State Department.
My instinct is to say that Bolton’s nomination is finished. But that might not be right. I had the same reaction when the slanders mounted against Thomas. But someone on the Foreign Relations Committee needs to get tough with the Democrats and their “witnesses.” Whether that will happen remains to be seen.
ONE MORE THING: Arlen Specter got a great deal of credit for his cross-examination of Anita Hill, and rightfully so, even though the examination was, in my opinion, pretty pedestrian. Norm Coleman is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, and is also a top-notch trial lawyer. If he chooses to, he could put on a clinic in how to cross-examine a witness that would put Specter in the shade. Does he want to? I don’t know.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Rich Lowry got an email from a “well-informed source”:
A few tidbits…
1. The Senate went into a special recess so Bolton could be voted out. Voinovich knew this. He was on board. If he had a problem, he could have told Leadership before we went into a special recess.
2. Voinovich’s reason for not voting for Bolton today? “I haven’t been to the hearings and haven’t heard all these allegations until now.” Embarrassing.
3. Lugar could have solved this problem easily — he could have asked Voinovich to abstain if he didn’t feel prepared to vote. He could have told him that he was embarrasing him (Lugar) and all Republicans for blindsiding him. He could have recessed for 5 minutes so Republicans could have talked to him.
4. Lugar postponed for *three weeks.* He could have called another meeting tomorrow morning and given people time to get to Voinovich.
5. Chafee — does anybody think he’ll stick, now that Voinovich is giving him cover?
That’s a pretty depressing assessment, if true. For what it’s worth, though, Chafee’s vote is consistent with the rumor we’d picked up that he will vote against the Constitutional option, since his vote isn’t needed there, but in favor of Bolton. “Consistent with,” of course, isn’t the same as “proven to be true.”
One more thought: there are, admittedly, differences between the House and the Senate. Nevertheless, watching this apparent train wreck really makes me appreciate Tom DeLay. There is a reason why political parties, and their adherents, value party discipline. Let’s hope that what is happening to Bolton doesn’t happen to DeLay.