U.N.leash Woolly Bully Bolton

By MAUREEN DOWD

New York Times

April 27, 2005

Why are they picking on poor John Bolton? Everyone knows the man is perfect for the United Nations job.

For one thing, his raging-bull temperament is ideally suited to an organization steeped in global pettifoggers and oil-for-food pilferers.

The uncombed, untethered Mr. Bolton is fabulously operatic - the Naomi Campbell of the Bush administration, ready at a moment's notice to beat up on underlings.

Who doesn't want to see Old Yeller chasing the Syrian ambassador down the hall, throwing a stapler at his head and biting at his ankles?

Who doesn't want to see him foaming at the mouth - yes, it will be hard to tell - at the Cuban delegate over Castro's imaginary W.M.D.?

Who doesn't want to see him mau-mauing the Iranian mullahs?

Who doesn't want to see him once more misusing National Security Agency eavesdropping technology, this time to spy on Kofi and son?

Who doesn't want to see him outrage North Korea by calling Kim Jong Il a fat, maniacal munchkin?

Even if his suave statesmanship were not so perfectly suited to high-level diplomacy, Mr. Bolton should still get the job. A ruthless ogre who tried to fire intelligence analysts who disagreed with his attempts to stretch the truth on foreign weapons programs deserves to be rewarded as other Bush officials have been.

After all, he was in sync with the approach of Condi Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, Stephen Hadley and Bob Joseph - who were all up for big jobs after they torqued up intelligence to fit the White House's theological beliefs.

Condi breezed into the secretary of state job, even after she helped Dick Cheney gin up the Iraq war, ignoring reports debunking the notion of Iraqi nuclear tubes, and even after she told Congress she'd shrugged at the Aug. 6, 2001, presidential daily brief headlined "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."

Mr. Wolfowitz was eager to sell the war, ignoring predictions of insurgency and possible civil war. So he and Donald Rumsfeld left our troops so stretched and vulnerable that they were reduced to using cardboard cutouts to stand sentry, and to jury-rigging Humvees that had not been properly armored, resulting in many lost limbs and lives.

So Mr. Wolfowitz now has the prestigious job of World Bank president.

George Tenet presided over the two biggest intelligence failures in modern history. He slam-dunked a Medal of Freedom out of them.

Just as Mr. Bolton and Mr. Cheney tried to shovel distortions into Colin Powell's U.N. speech, Mr. Hadley and Mr. Joseph put distortions into President Bush's State of the Union address.

Dick Cheney intimidated C.I.A. analysts before the war. And he and President Bush let North Korea and Iran race ahead with their nuclear programs, and let Osama roam free, while they indulged their idée fixe on Iraq. Their reward? A second term.

In the Bush 41 era, good manners and judiciousness were prized. In Bush 43's Washington, bristling and bullying are the cardinal virtues. Putting an ideological filter on reality is a good career move.

Once more using 9/11 as a rationale, Karl Rove told USA Today that the terrorist attacks proved that officials should "be contesting, not simply supinely receiving, information from security analysts." He also rejected a deal with Senate Democrats on judiciary nominations and defended the rip-out-their-eyeballs tactics of Mr. Bolton and Tom DeLay.

Mr. DeLay, who makes Donald Rumsfeld seem shy, created what The Washington Post called "an ethics-free zone" in the capital by bullying the House ethics panel, and now he and Dick Cheney are trying to bully the judiciary. Mr. Cheney also defended Mr. Bolton against criticism from the Colin Powell camp.

Colin Powell never got it: there's nothing wrong with a little abrasiveness to win global domination.

We should give the Bush administration credit for not being hypocritical by supporting a mealy-mouthed, mewling conciliator along the lines of Jeanne Kirkpatrick. If John Bolton is unfairly denied a chance to ply his diplomatic talents at the U.N., maybe he can work for Bill Gates.

After Mr. Gates shamefully backed down from supporting gay rights legislation - a Washington State preacher had threatened to boycott the company - Microsoft could use a feral muscleman to face down the evangelical bully.

That's a job - or an ankle - Mr. Bolton could really sink his teeth into.

E-mail: liberties@nytimes.com