Friday, April 22, 2005

How useless *are* the Republican "moderates"?

I don't want to totally diss the alleged Republican moderates.  Pragmatic conservatism would serve the country much better than the Christian Right jihadist mentality that is becoming increasingly dominant in the Bush Republican Party.

But this article about the John Bolton nomination reminds me of a lot of the things that make my very cynical about the so-called moderate Republicans of today: Powell Playing Quiet Role in Bolton Battle by Jim VandeHei and Robin Wright Washington Post 04/22/05.

Let's first recall that the great "Republican moderate" Colin Powell a little over two years ago went to the United Nations and defended the lies about "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq that were used to justify the preventive war there.  Powell himself had no problem being the foreign minister while the country embarced on a war against a country that had not attacked the US and presented no eminent threat - no threat at all, actually, in any normal usage of the word.  So, even though I'm opposed to Bolton as well, why would anybody believe a word that comes out of his mouth now?

Well down into the article, VandeHei and Wright present a partial summary of the substantive issues in the Bolton nomination:

Bolton has been accused of mistreating subordinates, including threatening a female former government contractor and misleading members about the handling of classified materials. Initially, Democrats opposed Bolton because of his negative comments about the United Nations.

Now, bullying people is a real problem in most organizations.  In private companies aa well as in public agencies, it's a practice that causes problems for the person doing it and for everyone around.  As a rule, the more authority the person has in the organization, the more of a problem such traits become.  So that issue in itself is much more than a case of manners, which is how the Republicans are trying to portray it.

But in this case, the Bolton was also bullying intelligence analysts to provide him fake claims to use to promote his own hawkish policies.  The country is stuck in a war in Iraq with no exit strategy, fighting the war in a way that will require the Army a decade or more to repair the damage to its recruitment and discipline, and the war was justified by phony intelligence claims.  It's no longer surprising that good conservative Republicans have no problem at all with that.

But what about those who posture as "moderates"?  The Post says: "[The Democrats'] attack now centers on his character and temperament. 'I do not believe that's a convincing case,' [Richard] Lugar said."  Oh, no, our model moderate Republican Senator Lugar is not going to quibble about bad manners!  And browbeating intelligence analysts to facilitate deceptive of the public and the Congress for his own warmongering policies?  No problem!

Returning to the article's title character, how is "moderate" Colin Powell defending his "moderate" positions?

Those who know Powell best said two recent events provide insight into his thinking. Powell did not sign a letter from seven other former U.S. secretaries of state or defense supporting Bolton, and his former chief of staff, Lawrence B. Wilkerson, recently told the New York Times that Bolton would be an "abysmal ambassador."

"On two occasions, he has let it be known that the Bolton nomination is a bad one, to put it mildly," a Democratic congressional aide said. "It would be great to have Powell on the record speaking for himself, but he's unlikely to do it."

He's quietly chit-chatting with Foreign Relations Committee members about Bolton.  But, golly, we couldn't expect him to actually say out loud and in public that he's opposed to having an "abysmal ambassador" at the United Nations (his former chief of staff's words).

Oh, there's one other little thing:  "Bolton served under Powell as his undersecretary of state for arms control, and the two were known to have serious clashes."

In other words, when Bolton was committing such serious misconduct in trying to get phony intelligence claims cooked up to use, he was working for Colin Powell.  Maybe the Senators ought to haul Powell up before the committee and chat with him about why he allowed such conduct on the part of his subordinate.  They might also if he has concerns about Bolton lying about intelligence claims, since Powell himself cheerfully and earnestly presented the phony WMD claims to the UN himself.

But what about the Republicans' most famous "maverick," the famously "straight-talking" John McCain?  VandeHei and Wright report:

The White House also helped organize Republicans to speak out in favor of Bolton yesterday. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on the Senate floor that Bolton's temper should not disqualify him. "I believe John Bolton could provide the medicine the United Nations needs," he said.

Heck, why should a "maverick" care about a little fake intelligence used to justify war and killing?

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