Democracy Arsenal

« Call it Mouse-FTA | Main | Peacegaming in California »

August 02, 2005

Bolton Bits
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

Lee Feinstein has a nice roundup over at America Abroad of what Secretary Rice has been doing to improve the US position at the UN before John Bolton gets there.  When you put it all together, Lee, it does sound like a coherent policy.

Before Ambassador Bolton rides off to the wilds of Manhattan, I’d like to propose three lessons the Affair of the Thrown Stapler can teach us.  Two of them are even optimistic:

1.  Even in Washington, there are limits on how bad your behavior to subordinates can be.  My observation of (and participation in) politics, media and non-profits has often led me to wonder whether there was anything that a boss fuelled by self-righteousness and ego couldn’t get away with.  Now we know.

2.  Americans do care about the UN – the Democratic Senators who led the charge against Bolton, and the Republicans who ultimately made the difference, would never have discovered there enthusiasm without the advocacy-generated thousands of letters, emails and phone calls from regular folks way back at the beginning.  Though this ended up as an inquiry into Bolton’s behavior, Bolton’s problems with truth-telling, and the White House’s allergy to document disclosure, it began as good old-fashioned whipping up the citizenry.

3.  It’s good to be king, and really, when it comes to putting in place the people and policies you want, nothing beats winning national elections.  I said months ago that Bolton would ultimately get the job, and that he wouldn’t matter much for US policy.  I believe I was right on both counts.  But I (mis)underestimated how much of a rallying point and symbol Bolton would obligingly allow himself to become.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Bolton Bits:


I see the Bolton issue much differently.

1) the only people who really cared about the Bolton saga were hard core Democratic and Republican politicos. Ask anyone in my office or my fiance's office (in NY city), and 95 out of 100 would look at you and ask who the hell is John Bolton.

2) what people did see is that the Democrats were opposing a Republican nominee (of something or other post) because he threw a stapler at somebody. This general feeling of obstructionism has come to define the Democrats position vis-a-vis their opposition to the President and this fiasco simply served to add to the obstructionist sentiment. And now that he has been put in position, continued Democratic calls about his weakness seem to be an attack against the President to weaken the AMERICAN representative to the UN. That is not going to play well in the states the Democrats most need to make some headway in.

3) even with all the effort the Democrats threw at the nominee, he's still in there. The Democrats scream and rant but has there been any other episode that displayed how incredibly weak their position currently is?

Where I will agree with you is that I doubt John Bolton will make any type of difference at the UN. Im not sure anyone will make much of a difference.

I said months ago that Bolton would ultimately get the job, and that he wouldn’t matter much for US policy. I believe I was right on both counts.

I hope so:

Two months ago, while his confirmation was in trouble, Bolton began efforts to double the office space reserved within the State Department for the ambassador to the United Nations... Bolton told several colleagues he needed more space and a larger staff in Washington because, if confirmed, he intended to spend more time here than his predecessors did. "Bolton isn't going to sit in New York while policy gets made in Washington," the administration source said..."

Alex --

Perhaps only "politicos" in Washington are/were following the Bolton controversy, but the fact remains that Bolton would have been confirmed by the Senate if Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) had not exhibited a modern "profile in courage" by taking a principled stand against the White House and the Republican leadership. It was only after Voinovich made his opposition clear during the final full SFRC hearing (5/12/05) on the nomination that Republican Senators like Hagel and Murkowski -- and eventually even Thune (!), albeit for another reason -- opposed Bolton. So it's simply not true to say that the opposition to Bolton was just more Democratic obstructionism.

However, I agree with you that this key point - Voinovich's critical role - is not reflected well in the recent coverage. That is unfortunate because it was a truly inspirational moment when a public figure put his principles over politics.

And Voinovich's speech from that day is really worth another read. Here's a key excerpt:

"Frankly, there is a particular concern that I have about this nomination, and it involves the big picture of U.S. public diplomacy.

It was not long ago when America’s love of freedom was a force of inspiration to the world and America was admired for its democracy, generosity and its willingness to help others in need of protection. Today, the United States is criticized for what the world calls arrogance, unilateralism and for failing to listen and to seek the support of its friends and allies. There has been a drastic change in the attitude of our friends and allies in such organizations as the United Nations and NATO and in the countries of leaders that we need to rely upon for help."

You can read the rest of his speech at here at Think Progress blog:

Regarding your point #2 it's worth pointing out that you are simply wrong. "Americans do care about the UN" is true on it's face, as there are some Americans who do care, but the implication is that most Americans care which is clearly not true.

In a nation of nearly 300 million people "thousands of letters, emails..." is both politically significant and meaningless in determinging broad public opinions. As I'm sure you are aware it's poli-sci 101 that a loud vocal minority will get it's way over an apathetic majority. Americans might care but the vast majority do not and they care even less over some guy named Bolton.

Lane Brody


You're right that only those citizens who vote actually matter to politicians making decisions about public policy in our democracy. And you're also right that many disaffected individuals who do not participate in our political system most likely do not care about the UN.

But believe it or not, letters and phone calls do influence the process. Jesse Helms cultivated the anti-UN groups throughout his political career and melded them into his conservative fundraising machine. But just because these fringe groups are prominent does not mean that they represent opinions of the majority of voters. They've just done a better job at getting their message out. There's no reason that moderate politicians can't reach out to pro-UN groups in a similar manner, and they should.

For more information about public opinion regarding the UN, take a look at these two polls:

(specifically Finding 8 on page 18)

(see question 2)

Both show that the American public implicitly accepts the UN as relevant and important.

Thank you for your sharing! I like i very much!

thanks for sharing Sohbet many people are pay more attention to one's wearing than before, especially a watch. Chat .
Perhaps when you went to some place far away Chat you must borrow it from friends Sohbet you can get everything you want in this game
Chat money to invest in other industry which will return you good profit. Sohbet when you look at the surface of the watches
Egitim from the city you live in and thought you knew nobody there exsohbet

en güzel rokettube videoları,
en muhteşem sex izleme sitesi
en kral rokettube yeri
kaliteli pornoların bulunduğu tek mekan
yabancı sitelerden özenle seçilmiş muhteşem ötesi porn sitesi...

Post a comment

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In.

Guest Contributors
Sign-up to receive a weekly digest of the latest posts from Democracy Arsenal.
Powered by TypePad


The opinions voiced on Democracy Arsenal are those of the individual authors and do not represent the views of any other organization or institution with which any author may be affiliated.
Read Terms of Use