Does John Bolton Hate the United Nations?

Would it surprise you that President Bush could undermine the government even further?

It shouldn’t. Yesterday saw both the “appointment” of John Bolton as United States ambassador to the United Nations and the ritualistic castration of Congress. Not content to let some semblance of democracy germinate on the floor of the Senate, Bush ignored months of debate and sharp bipartisan criticism of his candidate by simply sidestepping the issue and installing Bolton by fiat.

How? By invoking the often used but apparently seldom understood privilege of recess appointment. Contemporary constitutional pundits might tout this executive power as a check to senatorial deadlocks over potential candidates… and they would be wrong. Recess appointments allow a president to replace an ambassador who vacated office while Congress was not in session. It is not meant to be a tool to bypass the Legislature when they refuse a selection.

The office of U.N. ambassador has been empty for months, during which time Bolton’s nomination has been discussed endlessly. Regarded by colleagues as a world-class ass and bully, it seems unremarkable that Bolton — who openly considers the United Nations outmoded, useless and detrimental to U.S. interests — would circle the senatorial drain.

“John Bolton is a walking diplomatic time bomb, and he’s proved that over his career,” said Robert Boorstin, a former National Security Council member under the Clinton administration. “The fact that he could not get confirmed by the Senate tells the rest of the world this isn’t the best we could do.”

And he clearly isn’t. But in the world of George W. Bush, where Karl Rove is still part of the team and the siege of Iraq outstrips domestic infrastructure and public education on the priority totem pole, public opinion and the Constitution are hardly stumbling blocks to worry about.

This mindset is just as troubling as the man being appointed. The recess appointment has been subverted beyond belief, only it’s the Senate taking the hit. Senators are no longer able to use their quorum to debate on and deny dark-horse selections because the president can simply wait until they recess for the summer, plant his nominee, and blame any delays as stalling tactics and petty bickering. How does that not essentially reduce the Senate floor to a group of talking heads?

Not that the Senate seems primed to fight its growing uselessness; Ted Kennedy’s response is validation of that. “It’s a devious maneuver that evades the constitutional requirement of Senate consent and only further darkens the cloud over Mr. Bolton’s credibility at the U.N.”

Wondrous. Why not try doing something about it, then? Acting aggrieved is meaningless unless the illegal act is fought. It’s a simple matter to uphold the Constitution. Granted, you and the rest of your fellow delegates haven’t seemed too keen to do so when the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments were attacked during Bush’s first term, but I’ve heard that growing a spine is remarkably empowering. Give it a try.

As it stands, the Bush presidency has rammed through another ill-advised idea with zero respect for procedure or dissenting opinion. Each time it happens makes it easier for them to try again. No accountability, remember?

“The president has done a real disservice to our nation by appointing an individual who lacks the credibility to further U.S. interests at the United Nations,” said Christopher Dodd (D-CT) of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

George Voinovich (R-OH) agreed. “I am truly concerned that a recess appointment will only add to John Bolton’s baggage and his lack of credibility with the United Nations,” he said.

Maybe that’s the point? The United States of late has shown little to no respect for the world body, be it on the battlefields of the Middle East or on a forum floor in the heart of New York City. By forcing an openly hostile ambassador to participate with delegates of 190 other nations, the Bush Administration is playing its hand openly. It’s no secret his people wish to dominate world affairs without the hassle of independent investigations and diplomacy — look no further than the forged documents and pathetic negotiation tactics Bush employed before devastating Iraq — and if they can neuter the Senate, it’s a simple affair to dismantle the U.N.

As for Bolton? The man is a poor fit regardless of the personal scandals shadowing his nomination. I don’t want to be represented on the world stage by someone who demeans and belittles his subordinates, but I judge the man on his actions. Accepting installation like a latter-day dauphin is something I will not tolerate; neither should he if he has any concept of pride and self-image.

But there is hard evidence implicating Bolton in the same messy affair that traps Karl Rove — “Plamegate.” The ambassador has been caught lying under oath about pushing forged Niger uranium documents as evidence for the Iraqi invasion and also lied about being called to testify when under scrutiny for his U.N. appointment. He has been revealed as a regular source of information for now-imprisoned New York Times reporter Judith Miller and may, in fact, be one of the people who leaked Valerie Plame’s CIA connections to the press.

In short, Bolton may also be guilty of treason. That the kind of face man you want at the U.N.? Because unless the United Nations Credentials Committee raises the issue itself — and I sincerely hope they do — the venerable position will be filled until 2007 by a Bush sycophant eager to isolate the United States further than we ever dreamed possible.

Another lie, another crime. How much longer will the American people accept this?