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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Yes, there is still time 

The Washington Note on the Nelson Report
Someone named Chris Nelson writes something named The Nelson Report every so often -- no link available because apparently it's not online.
This is what he had to say on Monday, as quoted in The Washington Note, as linked on Liberal Oasis:

If the fight over John Bolton's UN nomination were just about John Bolton, he'd be history already. But this isn't about Bolton, it's about the exercise of power . . . We are at the point now where the Republican Leadership refuses to allow the possibility of a loss on anything, regardless of the merits. This renders 'debate' meaningless, since nothing said actually matters, so truth is irrelevant . . . Oppose something the President wants, and you aren't just wrong, you are betraying the Party. The underlying message is that you are also offending a very particular definition of God. The sad, sorry Bolton/DeLay spectacles are about total war, the kill-the-prisoners exercise of power that national US politics has become since the 2000 election. If it were merely about power, it wouldn't be so terrifying. Washington is used to that. . .it's what we exist for. But the fear, the self-loathing, the pathetic, cowardly, sniveling, excuse-making drivel from such 'leaders' as Lugar, Hagel, Chafee, the entire House Republican Leadership under DeLay. . . is about something far more dangerous to the Republic than mere political power. What we are seeing is a fight for the political soul of the nation. We've had these before, in the existential sense . . . in my political lifetime, the civil rights movement, the anti-Vietnam war movement, the women's rights versus, to a certain extent, the right to life movement. But this time it's totally and completely a fight about God . . . specifically, whether God is going to rule in the United States. The Constitution says that would be illegal, and any serious expert can tell you that not only were the Founders liberal in their interpretation of the Deity, but they intentionally enshrined a purely secular civic government, including the courts. They didn't think that Jesus had an official plan for us, much less did they think that politicians who defined their duties in secular terms were defying the word of God. Tom Delay manifestly believes this, and it sounds like any number of Senate Republicans either agree, or lack the imagination or moral courage to disagree . . . why else would some endorse threats against Republican-appointed judges who dare to interpret the law in secular terms? This is what the Bolton fight is really about: you can't dump him, because that lets the Democrats win on both the facts and principle. . .fatal notions to a desire to pack the courts with religious and secular policy extremists.
Why else would there be the constant drumbeat of attacks on the "liberal media", except to undermine public trust in the Constitutionally provided mediator between the politicians and the people?
The Founders knew how to protect what they intended; this crowd has figured out how to undermine the very rule of law in the United States. Listen to what DeLay is arguing . . . that his excesses have nothing to do with his "persecution", interesting choice of word, by the Democrats and their "liberal press allies". If a majority of Congressional Republicans don't, in their hearts, see the hypocrisy of all this, the Republic is doomed.
The real story behind Bolton and DeLay is obvious, to anyone not already seduced by the dark side.
Connect the dots. There's still time.

And, as it turned out today, there actually was still time.
It was the Senator from Ohio, who was discounted or ignored in all the recent progressive blogosphere calculation of which Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee might or could or would or should vote against the Bolton nomination.
About two hours into the Senate committee meeting, it seemed inevitable that the vote would be held to move Bolton's nomination to the Senate floor.
The Democrats were magnificent -- Boxer, Kerry, Obama, Biden, Dodd arguing that there were just too many questions remaining about Bolton's kiss-up, kick-down serial abuser behaviour. But a visibly uncomfortable chairman Lugar was pushing to have a vote, and quickly, before anything else negative about Bolton could be released -- apparently some possibly dangerous document was going to be released at 5 pm, and Lugar's marching orders were to get the vote done before then. Chafee was going to vote in favour; Hagal was going to vote in favour. It seemed like a done deal.
I happened to be watching the CSPAN live feed when, from the corner, Republican Senator Voinovich began to speak. Quietly he said "...I wasn't present during the hearing on John Bolton ... I've heard enough today that I don't feel comfortable about voting for Mr. Bolton."
It was stunning.
Suddenly, what had been an 10-8 vote became a 9-9 vote. Half an hour later, a visibly relieved chairman Lugar postponed the vote three weeks.
That will likely kill the momentum for this appalling nomination -- in fact, the mo is likely starting to go the other way. Once again, as with Iraq, and the preemptive war doctrine, and Guantanamo, and Social Security, and the Guest Worker idea, and the Mars mission, the realization is sinking in that Emperor Bush has no clothes. As long as everyone believes in how clever the Bush administration is, they can appear invincible. But its a shallow, brittle pose which, when it cracks, shows nothing of substance beneath.
This is not like the Kerik nomination, which died because of problems in his personal life and previous jobs.
In the Bolton case, the problems are in his work life, and the jobs he has done for the Bush administration. So if this one does down, it says that people are starting not to like how the Bush administration operates.
And maybe this will kill the so-called nuclear option, too.

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