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So John Bolton's nomination to be U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations is said to be in trouble, as a couple of Senate Republicans waver amid reports that he has been rude to subordinates. Pardon us for breaking up the mock horror, but someone has to point out that what's going on here isn't "advise and consent" but character assassination. Perhaps the White House will even begin to notice.
"My conscience got me," declared Ohio Republican George Voinovich on Tuesday, forcing a postponement in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote. And what so shocked his sensibilities? An accusation, from avowed liberal and anti-Bush partisan Melody Townsel, that Mr. Bolton had shouted at her and pounded on her door when they were both out of government in the 1990s.
This late political hit was dropped on the committee and leaked to the media only after Mr. Bolton had testified and before he could offer any response. But even if it were true, if raising your voice and pounding on doors is disqualifying for public service half of the Senate will have to resign. If Mr. Voinovich's "conscience" is outraged by anything, it should be that a nominee of his President is being treated in such a shameful fashion.
This smear campaign is all the more offensive because it is designed to avoid a genuine policy debate. Mr. Bolton, who has worked as a diplomat in two different Administrations, is being sent by Mr. Bush to lead a reform of the U.N. that desperately needs it if it is going to be effective. His skills helped repeal the U.N.'s "Zionism is racism" resolution in the early 1990s, and more recently he ran the successful and innovative Proliferation Security Initiative that helped put Libya out of the WMD business. But Democrats don't want to debate that record, because they know they'd lose. So they have set about to destroy Mr. Bolton personally instead.
All of this is being orchestrated by Senate Democrats Chris Dodd and Joe Biden, who represent the foreign-policy views that lost the last election. More than that, they are carrying water for a foreign-policy establishment that tried desperately to defeat Mr. Bush and failed, but now wants to pin an embarrassing defeat on the President by humiliating a nominee closely associated with his policy. This is the same establishment that so believes in the mythology of "multilateralism" that it doesn't care if the U.N. was corrupted by Saddam Hussein's Oil for Food program. Mr. Bolton is a threat to their U.N. illusions because he wants to achieve actual results.