President Bush has made it clear that his immediate agenda is to push through two of his nominees before the keys to Capitol Hill are handed over to the new Democratic majority.
John Bolton was recess appointed as UN Ambassador in August 2005 after having been filibustered in March of that year. And Robert Gates is the new nominee to replace Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the architect of the disastrous Iraq strategy that can only be loosely defined as a “plan”. And like any other architect, he can take pride in having designed and built something that will last for a very long time.
The Lame Duck Senate must filibuster them both.
Bolton is still the same disaster that he was when he was first nominated to the position. He’s still the same man that tried to have CIA analysts fired for telling him that the facts clashed with his ideological fervor over whether Cuba was transferring weapons to rogue states or not. He’s still the same man that said the UN building could lose ten stories and not notice a difference. And perhaps most damning of all, he’s still the same man that couldn’t tell the truth in his confirmation hearings when he was asked whether or not he had been questioned in any investigations, and he’s still the same man that was questioned in the Valerie Plame case. In other words, he’s still the same pathetic excuse for a nominee he was then.
Robert Gates is a different story--- But the same story all at the same time. He was questioned so heavily in Iran-Contra that he actually earned his own chapter in Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh’s report. The conclusion: “Independent Counsel found insufficient evidence to warrant charging Robert Gates with a crime for his role in the Iran/contra affair. Like those of many other Iran/contra figures, the statements of Gates often seemed scripted and less than candid. Nevertheless, given the complex nature of the activities and Gates's apparent lack of direct participation, a jury could find the evidence left a reasonable doubt that Gates either obstructed official inquiries or that his two demonstrably incorrect statements were deliberate lies.”
Apparently, that’s the new standard for cabinet positions--- There was a “reasonable doubt” that he helped cover for an operation that supplied arms to 1/3 of the “Axis of Evil” so they could fund a rightwing rebel group in South America that thought of political assassination, the rape and murder of civilians, and crop tampering to starve the populace as “good strategy”.
But on one level, you can certainly understand why George W. Bush would think he was a perfect fit in this administration--- One criticism of Gates is that in the waning days of the Cold War, he was constantly skewing intelligence to make the Soviet Union and Cuba sound stronger and more menacing than they actually were. The team that skewed intelligence to create WMD and operational ties between Iraq and al Qaeda would likely see that as a good thing to have on a resume.
And here’s the beautiful thing about filibustering them both--- These two miserable nominees can be blocked without political consequence. Are the Republicans going to trigger the “Nuclear Option”, thus getting rid of the filibuster two months before giving up their own majority?
The Senate was Democratic for the first two years of George W. Bush’s first term, but the Tom Daschle Senate wasn’t exactly known for holding Bush’s nose to the grindstone. Six years after our first glimpse at his idea of bipartisanship, there’s a new paradigm in Washington. And for once, it gives the American people a chance at a more responsive cabinet.