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Published: Thursday, 8/4/2005

Bolton's the man, for now

NO SOONER had the Senate left town than President Bush took the opportunity to give John Bolton a recess appointment as U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations. The irony is that, absent the confirmation that the Senate denied Mr. Bolton, "permanent" in this case means only until the end of the current Congress, which is to say, the end of 2006, 16 months off.

Mr. Bush's term at that point will still have two years to run, so he'll then have to find someone else to represent the country at the United Nations until he leaves office.

The pity is that Mr. Bush was not able to find someone to whom to assign the task that was not so objectionable that the Senate couldn't stomach him.

This was not a Republican-Democratic battle per se. The most eloquent opponent of all of Mr. Bolton was Ohio Sen. George Voinovich, who said he opposed Mr. Bolton in the name of his children and grandchildren.

U.N. officials such as Secretary General Kofi Annan and other countries' permanent representatives will work with Mr. Bolton because he will be the representative of the United States of America, with all that means in terms of power on the world stage.

On the other hand, imposing on the United Nations a representative whom the Congress refused to endorse is the equivalent of letting your nephew bring his incontinent dog with him when he comes to visit because, after all, he is your nephew.

President Bush's "love me, love my dog" approach reflects the fact that he can, under the law, make recess appointments, whether anyone likes it or not.

The President said he could not wait any longer for the Senate to vote on confirmation because the United Nations appointment is too important to leave vacant any longer.

He's right about the job's importance, but the unfortunate part is that the United States in this case is rendered less effective in international circles, and shamed to a degree, to have a rejected official as the second most important foreign affairs representative of our country on an important stage.

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