- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Going into a meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, Chairman Richard Lugar had every reason to believe he had the votes to send the nomination of John Bolton as U.N. ambassador to the Senate floor. Then Sen. George Voinovich’s “conscience” stepped in. “I’ve heard enough today that gives me some real concern about Mr. Bolton,” the Ohio Republican said after listening to the Democrats rail against the nominee for an hour. Mr. Voinovich’s excuse — that he was AWOL at both committee hearings and didn’t know all the allegations — simply doesn’t pass the smell test.

Our first response to the committee meltdown is this: When are Senate Republicans going to start acting like the majority party? Time and again they have allowed themselves to be steamrolled by ranking Democrat Joseph Biden’s delaying tactics over the Bolton nomination.

Mr. Voinovich insists he needs time to digest the new allegations. “Maybe it would be in the best interest of this committee to take a little bit more time,” he said. Does the senator ever wonder why the Democrats have a remarkable ability to discover “new” allegations every time they seek to delay a vote when they don’t have the votes to win a vote? Playing straight into the Democrats’ hand, Mr. Voinovich provided two other weak-sister Republicans the cover they have been looking for to withhold their support: Sen. Chuck Hagel, who had expressed reservations about Mr. Bolton over the weekend, and Sen. Lincoln Chafee, the only Republican who Democrats once hoped to persuade.

So the damage has been done. The Democrats will now have three weeks to scour the nation looking for someone, anyone, who can conjure a grievance. The current mutation is that Mr. Bolton’s “temperament,” what Sen. Christopher Dodd labeled “indictable,” disqualifies him for the job. The new charges actually aren’t new at all. One involves a woman who sent a letter to committee Democrats last week alleging that in 1994 Mr. Bolton chased her down a hotel hallway in Moscow throwing papers at her. The “aggrieved” woman, Melody Townsel, is a partisan Democrat who founded the Dallas chapter of “Mothers Against Bush.” The other allegation, stale since 1988, is something about an employee’s maternity leave. These are the allegations Mr. Voinovich needs time to investigate? We remember the good old days when Democrats were upset about Mr. Bolton’s hostility to the United Nations.

Perhaps it’s time to remind the waffling Republicans that Mr. Bolton has one of the most distinguished careers in government. If Messrs. Voinovich, Hagel and Chafee stick to the facts they’ll see how ridiculous it was to question Mr. Bolton’s ability to serve the United States as ambassador in the first place.

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