New York Times
August 1, 2005
WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 - President Bush bypassed the Senate and installed John R. Bolton as his ambassador to the United Nations on Monday over strong Democratic objections that he was abusing power and undermining the credibility of the United States.
In a brief announcement in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Mr. Bush said he had been forced to act because the United States had gone for more than six months without an ambassador to the United Nations.
It was the first time since the United Nations' founding in 1945 that the United States has filled that post using a recess appointment, a backdoor procedure that permits the president to fill vacant positions when the Senate is in recess, as it is for August.
The appointment brought to a close a five-month standoff between the White House and Senate Democrats, who had held up Mr. Bolton's confirmation over accusations that he had manipulated intelligence to conform to his hawkish ideology and had bullied subordinates.
Opposition by Senator George V. Voinovich, Republican of Ohio, was the catalyst for the Senate's refusal to confirm Mr. Bolton, a protégé of Vice President Dick Cheney known as being combative and outspoken.
"This post is too important to leave vacant any longer, especially during a war and a vital debate about U.N. reform," Mr. Bush said as Mr. Bolton stood to his right and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to his left.
The president said he was dispatching Mr. Bolton with "complete confidence." He praised him as a man who "believes passionately in the goals of the United Nations Charter, to advance peace and liberty and human rights."
Mr. Bolton will remain in the job until the end of the current Congress in late 2006, when he could be renominated.
Senior administration officials said there had been some misgivings in their ranks because Mr. Bolton might be seen as weakened with a recess appointment after months of battering in Congress, and a short term in the job. But other officials said Mr. Bush was determined to stand up to Congress and make a show of force on Mr. Bolton, a favorite of conservatives. The president's reference to "complete confidence" was a signal, they said, that he had the full support of the White House.
Mr. Bolton was sworn into office shortly after the announcement and by Monday afternoon had arrived in New York, where he was booed on the sidewalk outside the United States Mission.
Secretary General Kofi Annan welcomed Mr. Bolton, but told reporters that the new ambassador should consult with others as the administration continued to press for changes at the United Nations.
"I think it is all right for one ambassador to come and push, but an ambassador always has to remember that there are 190 others who will have to be convinced - or a vast majority of them - for action to take place," Mr. Annan said.
Mr. Bolton begins the job as the administration is threatening to take Iran to the Security Council to seek punishment if Tehran moves forward with its nuclear program.
Mr. Bolton, the former under secretary of state for arms control, took a hard line against nuclear proliferation by nations including Iran and North Korea, but administration officials have said that in his new job he would carry out the views of Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice and not make his own policy.
Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, characterized Mr. Bush's move as "the latest abuse of power by the Bush White House," while another Democrat, Senator Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey, said in a statement that "even while the president preaches democracy around the world, he bends the rules and circumvents the will of Congress" at home.
Democrats were also angry about caustic comments by Mr. Bolton regarding the United Nations and about the White House refusal to turn over documents related to his State Department service. In the 1990's, he said several floors of United Nations headquarters could be lopped off without being missed.
Mr. Bush, in his remarks, put the blame for the holdup of the nomination on "partisan delaying tactics by a handful of senators," but Democrats countered that the handful numbered at least 42, including a Republican.
"And it was growing," said Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, who led the Senate opposition. "It may have been more people if we had ever gotten a vote."
Mr. Voinovich told reporters that he intended to send Mr. Bolton a copy of a book he said has served him well: "The Heart and Soul of Effective Management" by James F. Hind.
"It's basically a Christian approach to managing and motivating people," Mr. Voinovich said, "that I thought he might read and perhaps ponder and take into consideration in terms of how he treats people up at the United Nations."
Democratic aides in Congress acknowledged that there was little their party could do beyond criticizing the appointment, which senators did via e-mail messages to reporters. By 10:04 a.m., three minutes after the president began speaking, Senator Edward M. Kennedy had sent out a statement calling the appointment "a devious maneuver" that "further darkens the cloud over Mr. Bolton's credibility at the U.N."
The appointment came as Democrats in Congress were in a new fight with the White House over the records of Mr. Bush's Supreme Court nominee, Judge John G. Roberts, when he worked in the solicitor general's office. But Democrats said they did not expect Mr. Bolton's troubles with the Senate to affect Judge Roberts's confirmation hearings.
Mr. Bolton is by far the highest-ranking of the 106 people that Mr. Bush has put into jobs by recess appointment during five and a half years in office. Among them were Otto J. Reich, the strongly anti-Communist assistant secretary of state for Latin American affairs, who was appointed in January 2002 and served until the end of Congress that year. Charles W. Pickering Sr. and William Pryor went to federal appeals courts in 2004 in recess appointments.
Judge Pickering, whose nomination was twice blocked by the Senate, retired when his appointment expired last December, but Judge Pryor was confirmed by the Senate in June as part of deal to avoid a filibuster fight over Mr. Bush's judicial nominations.
President Clinton had 140 recess appointments, including Mickey Kantor, who was appointed commerce secretary to succeed Ronald H. Brown, who died in a plane crash in 1996.
In remarks at Mr. Bush's side, Mr. Bolton said that in the United Nations, the United States sought "a stronger, more effective organization, true to the ideals of its founders and agile enough to act in the 21st century." He said he was "profoundly honored, indeed, humbled" by the appointment.