Bolton's swift exit a blow to American democracy
Editor's note: Leon D'Souza, a
graduate of the JCOM department, now serves America
in uniform. He is a frequent guest contributor to the
Hard News Cafe.
By Leon D'Souza
December 4, 2006 | John Bolton's resignation last week
as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations appears to
have had a transforming effect on George Bush's presidential
Gone is the tough-talking Texas cowboy on Pennsylvania
Avenue, the hard-headed White House boss who once ran
end-runs around political opponents. The new Dubya is
an impotent Washington whiner, griping and harrumphing
about "stubborn obstructionism," while yielding to adversaries
without so much as an attempt at counterargument.
Don't get me wrong: I've never been a fan of Bolton's
blusterous unilateralism, especially his well-documented
contempt for the very organization he was appointed
to serve. But his uncontested exit was, without doubt,
as much a democratic failure as his underhanded recess
Admittedly, the U.N.'s bÍte noire wasn't shown the
door as a result of conclusive debate establishing his
unsuitability for the job; rather, he was forced to
step down on account of perceived unpopularity in a
Senate where the balance of power has shifted.
As The New York Times noted, "administration officials
largely gave up on Bolton's Senate confirmation last
month," despite recent avowals of his diplomatic service.
Time magazine referred to the president's acquiescence
as "bowing to the inevitable" -- "another acknowledgement
by the White House of the political consequences of
the Nov. 7 Congressional elections."
The whole sordid business, to my mind, reeks of complicit
cronyism; a government by warring factions, operating
as cartels, all subverting the political process to
benefit their own parochial interests.
Strategic capitulation, in this new system, becomes
easy currency for future consensus-building. Messy persuasion
takes a backseat to self-serving compromise, often at
the expense of the public good.
It's an unholy quid pro quo, to be sure, and democracy
is the unfortunate casualty.
If I may be candid, it isn't like me to find common
ground with the president on nearly anything of consequence.
And yet, on his official statement concerning the U.N.
diplomat's unceremonious departure, I think disgruntled
Dubya was right on the money.
"I am deeply disappointed," he told reporters, "that
a handful of United States Senators prevented Ambassador
Bolton from receiving the up or down vote he deserved
in the Senate."
That is to say, the envoy's reappointment should at
least have merited due deliberation and democratic consideration.
Mr. President, I couldn't agree more.
What's tragic, however, is that you chose to do nothing