- The Washington Times - Monday, August 1, 2005

Our only regret about the president’s recess appointment of John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations is that it will end in January 2007. Recess appointments last only until the beginning of the following session of Congress, which in this case will begin after the 2006 midterm elections. Mr. Bolton’s principal task — reforming the United Nations — will require much longer than 17 months. It will likely take at least that much time to corral the various competing interests at Turtle Bay into a serious debate. But if anyone can achieve this, it’s Mr. Bolton.

The president’s power to appoint a nominee during a congressional recess, bypassing the Senate, should be used relatively rarely, especially when it involves a high-ranking position. President Bush has used the recess appointment 106 times in four years; Bill Clinton made 140 such appointment during his two terms. Only a bare handful of these appointments from from either administration stirred controversy. But the fact that the Democrats made the Bolton nomination controversial on their side of the aisle does not render the appointment either unconstitutional, or, as Sen. Ted Kennedy described it, “an abuse of power.” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, echoing Mr. Kennedy, called it “the latest abuse of power by the Bush White House.”

This is the drearily familiar Harry Reid nonsense. To say that the recess appointment is an “abuse of power” is to imply that the president committed an impeachable crime. Messrs. Reid and Kennedy have made it known that they do not particularly care for Mr. Bolton’s views, style or whatever else they have chosen to justify their obstructionism. They made it quite clear when they twice used the filibuster to block an up-or-down vote on his nomination. We wouldn’t therefore expect anything but unflattering remarks this morning. The misrepresentation, however, of a constitutional executive power — and for reference we point Messrs. Reid and Kennedy to Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution — is a serious abuse of the language.

The concern now is whether Mr. Bolton’s confirmation battle will diminish his clout at the United Nations, where his skills are so desperately needed. He will certainly have allies in the likes of Sen. Norm Coleman, who has been one of the principal forces in the ongoing oil-for-food scandal. He’s the president’s man and that cuts a lot more ice with corrupt U.N. ministers and their incompetent cronies than anything Harry Reid and his colleagues say.

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