Saturday, May 14, 2005

Bolton News for Saturday

As the journalist I.F. Stone has taught us, sometimes there are great stories not necessarily buried in archives of classified government files, but right there already in the public record. The instance cited below is an even more extreme example. The comments that I am going to report on, and comment about, below, were made by Senator Voinovich on Friday in opposing John R. Bolton's nomination to be U.N. ambassador.

If one was watching C-Span on Friday, they might have heard these comments. But the New York Times, the Washington Post, and all three television networks did not report a word of these particular assertions by the Senator.

There was no political agenda or sloppy reporting in the omission. Rather, it was most likely a result of reporters not only racing to meet not only a daily deadline, but also now being required to finish stories much earlier in their day to be posted on their newspaper's website, or to broadcast several times a day. In the process, they missed a gem.

I am going to forego any comment whatsoever ahead of time (such un-blogger like behavior!) and simply allow you to decide for yourselves (our slogan here is "I blog, you decide.") whether Senator Voinovich's comments are of some significance. Here is what he said:

"When discussing [various] concerns with Secretary Rice-- John Bolton's propensity to get off message, his lack of interpersonal skills, his tendency to abuse others who disagree with him-- I was informed by the secretary of state that she understood all these things and in spite of them still feels that John Bolton is the best choice and that she would be in frequent communication with him and he would be closely supervised. My private thought at the time, and I should have expressed it to her, is: `Why in the world would you want to send somebody up to the U.N. that has to be supervised?'"

Now some thoughts of my own: These were extraordinary comments for a Secretary of State to make about her President's nominee to be Ambassador to the United Nations. A State Department spokesman did not return a call on Friday seeking comment.

If Rice does not dispute the Senator's version of events, expect this to be a central issue in the Senate debate. (That last assertion was not based on discussion with sources, but rather... common sense.) If conversely Rice disputes the Senator's recounting of her conversation with the Senator, expect that to become a major news story. Of course, some news organization more important than this blog has to report the comments first.

I think Rice's comments raise more questions than they answer: For example, what exactly will the supervision entail? Will the United States ambassador to the United Nations receive a regular personnel review, and who will conduct it? Will they install a nannycam in the U.N?

Moreover, Rice's predecessor as Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and his chief of staff, Lawrence Wilkerson, have made much of the fact that Bolton attempted to circumvent them at every opportunity. Perhaps she believes that she will succeed where they haven't.

Other Bolton news:

According to this Boston Globe account, Sen. Voinovich told reporters that he is not the only Republican who might vote against the Bolton nomination on the Senate floor: "The fact of the matter is that no one is really excited about him going forward," Voinovich said.

I would like to write more for you, but it is such a beautiful spring day outside.

Random notes: The Washington Examiner published a column I wrote-- an appreciation of sorts, of the late Baron Edward Von Kloberg III-- on May 12. It is quite different than my earlier blog posting on the same subject, in that I had a few extra days to think about what I wanted to say. The Examiner column is not posted online, but the column is going to be reprinted in other newspapers, one of which I hope posts it online, so I can link to it here-- for my several blog readers.

In the meantime, here was my lede:

"Baron Edward Von Kloberg III was a man given to grand entrances and exits. The former public relations man to Saddam Hussein and Mobutu Sese Seko, while recently on vacation in Rome, flung himself in full fury off a parapet of the Castel Sant'Angelo, the site of Tosca's suicide in the Puccini opera. He wanted us to notice him one last time."

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