John McCain (aka Lincoln Chafee’s Most Important Senate Electoral Ally) Says Confirm Bolton Now
The Associated Press (via the Washington Post) is reporting that Senator John McCain is calling for swift confirmation of the nomination of John Bolton as United Nations ambassador. Senator Lincoln Chafee, whom Senator McCain plans to campaign for in Rhode Island on October 4, is the individual responsible for bottling up the Bolton nomination at the committee stage.
Is this a hopeful sign for the Bolton nomination, i.e. would Senator McCain risk embarrassment for all sides by making his statement without knowing if Senator Chafee has changed his mind on this issue? Or has Senator McCain underestimated Senator Chafee’s penchant for sticking his thumb in the eyes of people who should be his strongest supporters?
Part of the motivation for McCain?s call for swift confirmation of Bolton is Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez?s crude attack on George W. Bush at the United Nations last week?
McCain, R-Ariz., joined lawmakers from both parties in condemning Hugo Chavez’s speech last week at the United Nations in which the Venezuelan called President Bush “the devil.”Here is the beginning of the Chavez speech which Senator McCain believes merits a tough response?
“I would say that this is an argument to get John Bolton confirmed as our U.N. ambassador,” McCain said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “He’s smart, he’s tough, he will respond to these guys. And he could talk back to these two-bit dictators who have the airfare to New York.”
I think that the first people who should read this book are our brothers and sisters in the United States, because their threat is in their own house. The devil is right at home. The devil ? the devil, himself, is right in the house.The Chavez speech has an interesting parallel. During the confirmation hearing of Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State, Senator Chafee asserted that criticism of President Chavez?s anti-democratic record was ?disrespectful? to the Venezuelan people. Here is what not-yet Secretary Rice had to say about the government of Venezuela and President Chavez in particular?
And the devil came here yesterday.
Yesterday, the devil came here. Right here. Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today, this table that I am now standing in front of.
Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world. Truly. As the owner of the world.
I think we could call a psychiatrist to analyze yesterday’s statement made by the president of the United States. As the spokesman of imperialism, he came to share his nostrums, to try to preserve the current pattern of domination, exploitation and pillage of the peoples of the world.
An Alfred Hitchcock movie could use it as a scenario. I would even propose a title: “The Devil’s Recipe.”
RICE: Thank you, [Senator Martinez]. I think that we have to view, at this point, the Government of Venezuela as a negative force in the region, negative in terms of its effect on its neighbors, as you have outlined, and negative in embracing the only undemocratic government in the region?as I said, the only place there?s an empty chair in the OAS is for Cuba?negative in the sense of what he is doing inside of his own country to suppress opposition. And it?s a very, very serious matter. And the?we can, I think, work with others to expose that and to say to President Chavez that this kind of behavior is really not acceptable in this hemisphere that is trying to make its way toward a stable, democratic future.Here is what Senator Chafee had to say about Rice?s remarks?
CHAFEE: In particular, after having just come back from South American and meeting with President Chavez?here he has been?gone before his people?high, high turnout, just had a referendum. And, as one of the people from our embassy said, ??He cleaned their clocks and kicked their butts.?? And it seems to me to say derogatory things about him may be disrespectful to him, but also to the Venezuelan people. How do you react to that?Of course, the things that Ms. Rice said were a) true and b) rather mild ? she certainly didn?t call Chavez a ?two-bit dictator?, as Senator McCain did. I wonder if Senator Chafee now thinks that Senator McCain has been disrespectful to the Venezeulan people.
Anyway, the questions raised by all of this are…
1. Given that President Chavez?s remarks were much more ad-hominem and much harsher than anything said by Condoleezza Rice, will Senator Chafee apply the same standard to President Chavez?s remarks and denounce them as disrespectful to the American people?
2. Given the kind of discourse leaders like Hugo Chavez feel is appropriate for the UN, does Senator Chafee agree with Senator McCain that the U.S. needs the ?straight-talking? style of representation provided by an Ambassador like John Bolton, or does he disagree with Senator McCain and prefer that Bolton be replaced by a representative with a more apologetic, appeasing style?
Senator Jack Reed and Senate candidate Sheldon Whitehouse should also be asked question #2.