- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 12, 2006


President Bush will not relent in his defense of John R. Bolton, his nominee for U.N. ambassador, despite unwavering opposition from Democrats who view Mr. Bolton as too combative for international diplomacy, aides said yesterday.

Two of Mr. Bush’s top advisers said the White House is not backing down from a fight to win Senate approval for Mr. Bolton to continue in the job. Mr. Bush gave Mr. Bolton the job temporarily in August 2005, while Congress was in recess. That appointment will expire when Congress adjourns, no later than January.

The Senate’s top Democrat Harry Reid, said lawmakers have more pressing matters to deal with during the postelection session this week.

“I think we should go to things that we can work together on,” said Mr. Reid of Nevada.

White House counselor Dan Bartlett said Mr. Bolton has done a remarkable job.

“He’s proven the critics wrong on all the charges they’ve leveled against him,” Mr. Bartlett said. “So let’s have a conversation about it. We’ll see.”

The White House resubmitted Mr. Bolton’s nomination on Thursday, although it has languished in the Senate for more than a year. Finding a replacement for Mr. Bolton would come at a sensitive time for the Bush administration. It is counting heavily on U.N. diplomacy to help confront North Korea and Iran over their nuclear programs and to end fighting in Sudan’s Darfur region.

With Democrats capturing control of the next Congress, Mr. Bolton’s chances of winning confirmation appear slim at best. The likely chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democratic Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, said last week that he saw “no point in considering Mr. Bolton’s nomination again.”

“We’re putting him up for confirmation,” White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten said yesterday. “I think if he actually was able to get a vote in the full Senate, he would succeed.”

Sen. Lincoln Chafee, Rhode Island Republican, who lost on Election Day, said he would not end his opposition to Mr. Bolton. That probably would deny Republicans the votes needed to move the nomination from the committee to the full Senate before Congress adjourns. Republicans lack the 60 votes needed to force a vote.

Democrats say Mr. Bush should alter course now and nominate someone less hard-charging, with greater finesse in handling sensitive diplomatic matters.

“There’s a lot of competent people. Send someone new up, Mr. President,” Mr. Biden said yesterday.

Mr. Bush’s chief of staff played down speculation that the administration might circumvent the Senate and allow Mr. Bolton to somehow continue to represent the U.S. at the United Nations by finding an alternative means of paying his salary or appointing him to serve as an acting or deputy U.N. representative.

“I don’t know about that,” Mr. Bolten said. “Our effort is going to be to try to get him confirmed in the ordinary course.”

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