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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

How To Question Bolton

Today we learned the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has postponed a final vote on John Bolton’s confirmation as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations because committee Democrats want to hold more hearings.That’s good, because the previous hearings did not even begin to get into the two best reasons for being worried about Bolton: his record as nuclear proliferation chief at the State Department, and his contempt for the kind of humanitarian relief missions we ought to be undertaking in Darfur.This is a matter of both substance and politics. This blog, the DLC, two respected analysts from the Center for American Progess, and political consultant Kenny Baer have all laid out the national security case against Bolton. The way I would put it is that this guy perfectly represents the incredibly dangerous blind spots in the Bush administration’s approach to fighting the war on terrorism, and the thinly veiled hostility to “those people” in the Third World as worthy of our interest that lies just beneath the surface of all the democracy rhetoric we’ve heard lately.So far, Senate Democrats have heavily focused on the argument that Bolton doesn’t much like the U.N. and is, perhaps, a jerk and a bully–a “kiss-up, kick-down” kind of guy. Now, I’m not a Washington lifer; try to get out of town every weekend; and don’t drink the water when I’m here; but I do know that “kiss-up, kick-down” could easily compete with “Taxation Without Representation” as the official District motto. This is not the right approach to questioning Bolton, and it doesn’t seem to be working a lot of magic, either.There is a strong, important, compelling case to be made on this nomination on national security grounds, and Senate Democrats, on and off the Foreign Relations Committee, need to start making it right away.

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