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April 17, 2005

Comments

I got to this post before the byline was placed at the top (grrrr), and I thought I was reading von. Which I suppose you should both take as a compliment.

Sorry; I always forget, and then have to go in and edit this. But I'm flattered.

In the realm of political theater, Boxer's perforance does score points with her Dem partisans, and that is not a bad idea. Obama may be more effective in changing Republican minds, but will have little impact beyond that insider role.

If Repubs confirm Bolton without regard to these issues regarding intelligence subordinates (which seems likely), Boxer's theatrics probably have a longer lasting impact. Obama's superior questioning will have no import.

wonderful analysis and conclusion hilzoy.

Obama represents the very best sort of politician. If only we had more like him. I disagree wtih dmbeaster that Obama will have little impact...he's clearly thinking long term in building a reputation that will serve him well for many years whatever he chooses to do.

I'm with Edward. Obama is coming into the Senate with such huge expectations that managing the insider politics is essential for him.

Thanks for posting this. Obama was very good. I dislike Boxer.

Yes, this was good cop, bad cop. Very good good cop, not a very good bad cop.

But if Dmbeaster is right in his judgement and we wake uo one morning with Bolton at the U.N. and ten floors missing from the building, then very good good cop wasn't good enough. Bring on the the very good, extremely bad cops.

Boxer's questioning was probably ineffective. It did get coverage, but I'm not sure it changed anything.

I didn't hear Obama's questioning, but the section you described doesn't seem move the ball any farther forward.

"Mr. Bolton, who is an undersecretary of state, testified before the committee Monday. He said he only tried to have the analyst reassigned, not fired."

The reason for trying to get the analyst fired isn't the issue, he denies trying to get him fired at all. If it can be proven that he did indeed try to do get him fired, the motivation should be irrelevant. Biden actually took this farther, dismissing the term "fired" and getting an admission that Bolton tried to have Westerman "removed from your portfolio" but that he "in no sense sought to have any discipline imposed on Mr. Westerman." That assertion might be easier to disprove than to prove the intention of Mr Bolton in getting Westerman reassigned, or proving intent to fire him without a direct quote saying he wanted him fired.

But I'm not sure that proving that was a lie would be enough. The senators may indeed not like being lied to, but they could embrace a salesman's rationalization ("A lie is not a lie if the truth is not expected.")

I for one, think that a "bad cop" needs to be sent to the UN. Also, I think that somebody should have been angry, very angry, when we lost Turkey's cooperation in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. Somebody in the State department really messed that up.

You don't want Bolton. OK fine. Then send Claudia Rosett to the UN.

I was worried that my negative reaction to Boxer's questioning was the result of an implicit anti-(powerful woman) bias. Hearing that other people, including women, were also bothered by it makes me more confident that her questioning style would have gotten to me regardless of gender. Not totally confident, but more so.

If Obama thinks the keys to pork & power are in the hands, respect, and good opinion of his Republican colleagues, he will not be serving his constituents well.
A man, no matter how carefully, who walks the center line of the highway is sure to end up roadkill.

The only Senators who might conceivably be impressed by his tactics are already compromised beyond viability, and unless the Democratic Party is equally compromised are doomed as low hanging fruit There is no space left in America for moderation in either strategy or bearing.

The SOB voted for the bankruptcy bill. Just another whore, bought and paid for.

bob m: My point wasn't: oh goody, he's kowtowing to the Republicans. It was: how interesting to watch someone with his eyes completely on the ball.

Well, I didn't see the hearing. But as a general matter, I'm a little down on Obama. To hell with "Purple America." At this point, I want strong federalism, a clear Red America, and a clear Blue America. And then let 'em vote with their feet.

Oh, and I would like to add, What Mark Steyn said.

DaveC: personally, I thought that was the second worst column on Bolton, the first being the WaPo's idiotic piece on his hair, but I guess I must have missed something...

washerdryer: "I was worried that my negative reaction to Boxer's questioning was the result of an implicit anti-(powerful woman) bias. Hearing that other people, including women, were also bothered by it makes me more confident that her questioning style would have gotten to me regardless of gender. Not totally confident, but more so."

You've been participating in the painful Unfogged thread about women and tone and feminism and torture and more. As far as I know, things here are rarely discussed based on an explicitly feminist framework (though many of us consider ourselves feminists, I'm sure), and I think there's little to no gender tension. It's a bit odd now that I think about it, since there are certainly contentious discussions here.

Regarding the firing business, Bolton may have tried to get Mr. Smith fired, but he didn't blow his cover.

I read the Steyn thing.

He has a funny way of putting things and made me laugh.

I agree with his judgement that Boxer's suggested anger management classes are a crock. Makes me, like it makes Steyn, want to throw chairs and cause damage.

For example, when the "torpid Federal agencies" (his words) failed us on 9/11 by merely producing a warning memo read by the action heros in the White House, better that Mr Clarke should have hit Ms. Rice in the head with a chair, preferably the chair Saudi royalty uses in the oval office to have their way with the smirking tough guy.

I believe there is a verse or two in the Bible about smiting with a chair, so I mean this literally. Should you believe taxing chair-throwing will lessen my chair-throwing habits, you are sadly mistaken about the behavior modification of the tax code in the chair-throwing free market.

See, the thing about tough guys like Bolton is someone needed to cold-cock him before he got the idea he was so tough. He's like George Steinbrenner; a few minutes of unconsciousness flat on his back on the pavement can improve a person's character.

We'll see if Obama's elegant rhetorical cold-cocking will do the job, but I suspect the smirking one in the White House has his bad boys out looking for a dead little boy to plant in Obama's bed should he get to close.

Besides, I'm with McManus. He voted for the bankruptcy bill. Screw Bolton and Obama.

I suppose your point, hilzoy, is that Chaffee especiakky needs public cover, something Chaffee can point to and say "Well, enough doubts have been raised..." (I actually don't care much about Bolton. He will have no real power, and everybody hates us already.)

And that Obama's careful style could provide that cover without an obvious partisan aspect that make it difficult for Chaffee to buck his party.

And maybe making nice with Chaffee will provide the one vote that will prevent the nuclear option from succeeding. Whatever.

First of all, Obama voted "no" on both cloture and final passage on the bankruptcy bill; I double checked the roll calls on the Senate website.

Maybe you confused it with the class action bill? I don't know much about that one and tend to err on the side of assuming that Bush is up to no good, but I don't think it's anyway comparable to the godawful bankruptcy bill.

Hilzoy, some people simply will NOT be persuaded & it's entirely necessary and appropriate to try to get on the news & reach the voters rather than reaching your Republican colleagues who will be doing what Frist tells them to do in any case.

I would be completely shocked if Obama's questioning "did any real damage."

Bad cop has a place. Boxer is not actually very good at it--I find her unimpressive in general,including when I've seen her speak live--but bad cop has a place. Shrill has a place. Calling a spade a spade has a place. You just have to use them carefully for maximum effectiveness.

One of the lovely things about Obama is that he is entirely capable of doing this. Has anyone read his anti-Iraq war speech? Here's an excerpt:

"I don't oppose all wars ... What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other arm-chair, weekend warriors in this Administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.

"What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income ... to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone thru the worst month since the Great Depression.

"That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics .... "

You can certainly argue that this is actually way too harsh--but the point is, he's not one dimensional. You can also argue that he talks one way for primary voters and another way for the Senate. Maybe, maybe not. It's also possible that he saves the anger & harsh rhetoric very carefully for when it is most necessary and when it will do the most good. It's too soon to tell with Obama, really, but so far I am very impressed & my hopes for what he'll accomplish in the future have not diminished.

On the other hand, not only am I not prepared to say he's the Democratic messiah; as of right now I'd say he's quite clearly only the second best Senator from Illinois. This is partly because I'm so enamored of Dick Durbin, of course--but beyond that: Obama's just new at this, and that makes a difference.

"First of all, Obama voted 'no' on both cloture and final passage on the bankruptcy bill; I double checked the roll calls on the Senate website."

Thank god. 'Preciate the catch, Katherine.

"Maybe you confused it with the class action bill?"

My bad, and apologies. Maybe I confused it with the Gonzalez confirmation? I just remember he has disappointed me already.

Agree about Durbin. One of my favorites also.

Good cop, bad cop? No. More like smart Senator, dim Senator. Boxer is a laughingstock.

Obama voted no on Gonzales, yes on Rice.

O.K. Good for Obama.

Good for McManus, too. First time he was wrong.

I, of course, am just wrong.

"I for one, think that a "bad cop" needs to be sent to the UN. Also, I think that somebody should have been angry, very angry, when we lost Turkey's cooperation in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. Somebody in the State department really messed that up.

You don't want Bolton. OK fine. Then send Claudia Rosett to the UN."

Posted by: DaveC

DaveC, since (IIRC) 90% of the turkish population was opposed to letting the US ground forces in, and this wasn't the sort of thing which could be easily hidden,
what would you suggest? Insulting Turkey some more?
Threatening Turkey? Trying to stage a military coup?

Then, of course, there's the third kind of Democratic Senator--the kind that tries to give Frist everything he wants on nominees without the risk of the nuclear option, & seriously considers supporting social security phaseout so that Bush will call him by a cooler nickname:

Nelson is known for his practical jokes and his strong sense of humor. In addition to naming the drought, Nelson has attempted to name himself by having some fun with President Bush's penchant for nicknames. When President Bush announced aboard Air Force One that he had dubbed Nelson "Nelly" the Senator good-naturedly objected. Nelson offered some of his own suggestions to the President including "El Tigre" and "Killer." Ultimately, Nelson secured an agreement for President Bush to refer to him by a nickname created by Nelson's staff, the "Benator."

That's from Nelson's OFFICIAL BIO on his Senate website. He's also mentioned it on the Daily Show & Meet the Press.

You know, I was under the distinct impression Obama had caved on the bankruptcy bill as well. Where the heck did I get that idea?

Barry, the war was unpopular in Turkey, but a little better diplomacy may have gotten the four votes needed for their cooperation.

From Joel Mowbray, National Review Online:

It is unclear exactly how many votes were swayed by the previous day's snub in northern Iraq, but considering the resolution only failed by four votes out of 534 members present, State's actions there could have been the difference. Either way, it is a sore spot for many in the Bush administration — some of whom think the State Department angering Turkey was no accident. Notes a Defense Department official familiar with the Iraqi opposition groups: "Many top officials at State don't want to go to war in Iraq. State knew the politics of the situation, yet they excluded the group backed by Turkey right as the Turkish parliament was voting on the resolution. It makes you wonder: Is State trying to undermine the president?"

Of course there were problems with Turkey kowtowing to France in order to get a more favorable prospect for entry into the EU, versus the whole Turkey will support us because they're in NATO thing.

What I'm saying is that the state department should work hard for our side, not for the UN's side or the EU's side or whatever.

But then again, if we asked real nicely, maybe the International Criminal Court would have just gone in and arrested Saddam Hussein for the 300,000 in the mass graves.

Either way, it is a sore spot for many in the Bush administration — some of whom think the State Department angering Turkey was no accident.

Wow, what nostalgia. The State Department was actively impeding the Bush admin, because the admin thought so. Of course, given the intel that this adventure was based on, if State had actively been impeding this, who was being more reality based in this?

DaveC: Do you seriously believe that any part of this administration has been working hard not for us, but for the UN or the EU? If so, do we live in the same universe?

I never really trusted that Colin Powell traitor, myself.

I now understand why his wife was frightened about his welfare (see how I throw in a Luntzian word choice to skew opinion even more against Powell) if he ran for President.

I wonder if, when he turns over in bed, she can see all of the arrows sticking out of his back.

She should turn the traitor in, don't ya'll think.

haha. It was Wolfowitz who was sent to Turkey to do the whipping of the Turkish legislature.

DaveC: Do you seriously believe that any part of this administration has been working hard not for us, but for the UN or the EU? If so, do we live in the same universe?

hilzoy, My son attends Macalester College, where they fly the UN flag, fer chrissakes, and speak reverently of Kofi Annan. Now I know personally that there are a lot of earnest, if in my opinion misguided, students there that are working toward jobs in the State Dept, who have some allegiance to the idea of the transnational progressive movement.

I was under the impression that State Dept employees generally retain their jobs between administrations. But if the Bush administration has purged the State department of these Tranzis as effectively as colleges and universities have purged themselves of conservatives, I would be quite surprised.

Now this may come as a surprise to you, but many people,including Bolton, are disillusioned with the UN for a variety of reasons. When Sen Boxer objects to this by saying "You have nothing but disdain for the United Nations," Boxer charged. "You can dance around it, you can run away from it, you can put perfume on it, but the bottom line is the bottom line.", well frankly, that bottom line does not bother me at all. In fact I think the UN needs a major spanking.

Getting rid of Saddam Hussein didn't pass the global test, but I was for it anyway. Now, I feel bad for Colin Powell for taking a hit (mostly from the left) for his testimony at the UN, but then again I don't think that the spread of freedom needs the approval of China, Cuba and Sudan.

Now, I feel bad for Colin Powell for taking a hit (mostly from the left) for his testimony at the UN,

The only thing hitting Powell harder for his testimony at the UN than the left was the man's own conscience.

Really, this is revisionist history and wishful thinking at its very worst.

I would hope we can live in a world where freedom and purges can peacefully co-exist.

And, now, because I am free, I shall go purge.

I'd like to throw out another little issue for y'all to chew on. Would hilzoy, for instance, or anybody else around here allow their children to attend Wheaton College (Illinois)? If not, why not? There are only a handful of top conservative colleges left. Would you be open-minded enough to let your kid attend Wheaton without strenuous objections?

The only thing hitting Powell harder for his testimony at the UN than the left was the man's own conscience.

I am not an expert at mind reading, but I don't think Powell's conscience is bothering him.

I am not an expert at mind reading, but I don't think Powell's conscience is bothering him.

Good news then. You don't have to be an expert in mindreading. Being merely proficient in regular reading will suffice:

At the same time, former US Secretary of State Colin Powell has made some surprisingly candid remarks in an interview with Germany's Stern magazine published on Wednesday. "We were sometimes too loud, too direct, perhaps we made too much noise," Powell told the magazine. "That certainly shocked the Europeans sometimes." In the interview, he also expressed regret over the speech he gave at the UN in February 2003 that made the US case for war based on information on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction -- information that later turned out to be almost entirely false. Powell said he was "furious and angry" that the information turned out to be wrong. "Hundreds of millions followed it on television. I will always stand there as the one who presented it. I have to live with that." (2:30 p.m. CET)


Well my apologies, and to the German people as well. Their foreign policies have worked out so well in the past 125 years or so ;)

Well my apologies, and to the German people as well. Their foreign policies have worked out so well in the past 125 years or so ;)

non sequitur ;-)

Well, my 15-year old watches Fox with me on occasion and he seems to be O.K.

I willingly attended a mid-western university which, at the time, was pretty middle of the road, and despite the occasional alcohol poisoning at the hands of the the Ayn Randers up on fraternity row, I ended up enjoying paying my taxes.

My grandfather, who told me repeatedly that Martin Luther King was a Commie, among other things, was still a lovely man who taught me how to throw the curveball, in case I ever faced Wille Mays, who may have been a Commie, among other things.

And yet, here I sit today, self-brainwashed and against all odds, deeply biased.

John,

Well, at least you didn't turn out like Edward_. When I read the part in David Sedaris' book "Me Talk Pretty Some Day" about when he was a meth'ed up performance artist, I immediately thought of yoknowwho_ ;)

But then again I'm not a mind reader, even though I analyze brain waves.

But then again I'm not a mind reader

Dave, Dave, Dave...

there has been no mindreading here...you're gonna have to work harder to deflect the fact that you were wrong...and comparing me to David Sedaris will only put you on my good side.

David Sedaris's description of his stint as one of Santa's elves at the New York department store (macy's?)
in one of the great studies of the rancid, banal ways we treat each other on a daily basis.

The Kremlin had Siberia. We have each other.

DaveC: I would probably allow my child to go to any school he or she wanted to go to, so long as it was accredited. I would probably also question the decision to go to any explicitly ideological college or university, on the grounds that it's generally a bad idea. I think trying to put together a good college or university is hard enough without crippling yourself by imposing political (or religious) tests on your prospective faculty, and therefore that colleges with an explicit ideology tend to be worse than others with comparable funding etc. Also, if my child wanted to go to a college whose ideology s/he agreed with, I would think that would be limiting (though of course this would not be true if s/he were a liberal wanting to go to a conservative college, or vice versa.)

Having spent time in academia, and having been, for a while, the academic advisor to a significant fraction of my (then) college's conservative student leadership, I think that liberal bias is often less than it's cracked up to be. Though of course there are exceptions, and I would discourage my child from attending them, since I'm allergic to that sort of stuff.

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