- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 2, 2005

President Bush yesterday used a recess appointment to install John R. Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, defying Senate Democrats who had blocked an up-or-down vote on the nominee.

“I’ve used my constitutional authority to appoint John Bolton,” the president announced with Mr. Bolton at his side in the Roosevelt Room. “I’m sending Ambassador Bolton to New York with my complete confidence.”

Mr. Bolton, who was nominated nearly five months ago, expressed his gratitude to the president and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was on hand for the ceremony.

“I’m profoundly honored — indeed, humbled — by the confidence that you have shown by appointing me,” he told the president. “I am prepared to work tirelessly to carry out the agenda and initiatives that you and Secretary Rice direct.”

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, whose tenure at the world body has been tarnished by corruption in the Iraq oil-for-food program and other scandals, said he would welcome Mr. Bolton, who has a reputation as a hard-charging reformer.

“We look forward to working with him, as I do with the other 190 ambassadors,” Mr. Annan told reporters. “We will welcome him at a time when we are in the midst of major reform.”

But Mr. Annan cautioned that the United Nations places a premium on diplomacy.

“It is all right for one ambassador to come and push,” he allowed. “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.”

Democrats, who twice blocked an up-or-down vote on Mr. Bolton by threatening to filibuster, were furious at the president for bypassing them.

“It’s a devious maneuver that evades the constitutional requirement of Senate consent and only further darkens the cloud over Mr. Bolton’s credibility at the U.N.,” Sen. Edward M. Kennedy said in a statement sent to reporters before the president finished announcing the appointment.

The Massachusetts Democrat complained that the administration refused to turn over internal documents related to Mr. Bolton. He and other Democrats also groused that Mr. Bolton failed to tell Congress that he had been interviewed in a probe of faulty intelligence in the run-up to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“By moving unilaterally to overrule the Senate and appoint a nominee who is being dogged by significant questions about his integrity on intelligence matters, Bush has reduced our nation’s ability to cooperate with our allies on the war on terror,” said Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.

However, Republican senators approved the decision overwhelmingly, saying that Democrat’s delaying tactics meant, in the words of Sen. George Allen of Virginia, that “the president had to do this.”

Some political analysts had expected Mr. Bush to make the recess appointment after yesterday’s evening newscasts or issue a written statement today on his way out of town for a monthlong vacation in Crawford, Texas. But Mr. Bush decided over the weekend to announce his move in front of news cameras with the nominee at his side.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan was asked by The Washington Times whether the high-profile ceremony was “in-your-face” defiance toward Democrats.

“No, it’s the significance of the important position,” Mr. McClellan replied. “It’s a critical time for the United Nations, as well. The president believes very strongly … that he is the right person for the job.”

Mr. Bush lavished praise on Mr. Bolton while scolding Democrats for blocking the nomination.

“The United States Senate held thorough confirmation hearings, and a majority of United States senators agree that he is the right man for the job,” he said. “Yet, because of partisan delaying tactics by a handful of senators, John was unfairly denied the up-or-down vote that he deserves.”

Mr. Bolton — who was joined by wife, Gretchen, at the ceremony — appeared to choke up when the president talked about his parents.

“John’s father was a firefighter; his mother was a homemaker who took her son to the public library to show him the value of education,” Mr. Bush said. “I know that Jack and Virginia Bolton would be proud today to see the boy they raised in Baltimore appointed to serve as our permanent representative to the United Nations.”

The appointment lasts through January 2007. White House officials declined to speculate whether Mr. Bush would use another recess appointment to keep Mr. Bolton in the job for the final two years of the president’s term.

The circumstances over the appointment are unlikely to compromise Mr. Bolton’s credibility at the United Nations, as many Democrats have asserted, because few other nations run their U.N. ambassadors through a confirmation process in national legislatures.

“The presidential prerogative makes perfect sense to me,” said one African delegate, who like most U.N. envoys would not comment publicly on U.S. politics. “I think most people here would agree that he is here to represent the president, and so it is the president who should select him.”

cBetsy Pisik in New York contributed to this report.

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