Back-Door Bolton

So the president installed John Bolton as ambassador of the UN via recess appointment, thus getting around a Democratic filibuster in the Senate. (Bush’s rationale? Bolton was denied an “up-or-down vote.” Still don’t understand why anyone deserves an up-or-down vote, ever, but okay.)

The real action, though, is watching Bush supporters rationalize this rather sleazy move—yes, sleazy; it would be hard to believe that we wouldn’t hear conservatives grinding their teeth if, say, Bill Clinton pulled off this sort of stunt—over at the National Review. Here’s Mark Levin: “I agree about the questionable constitutionality of these kind of recess appointments, but they have been made since our first president.” So what Bush did isn’t exactly constitutional, but hey, everyone’s done it! Now that argument seems persuasive to me, but isn’t this precisely the sort of deviation from the original meaning of the Constitution that the writers of the National Review have been so up in arms about over the years? Didn’t Mark Levin just write a book blasting the Supreme Court for endorsing this kind of logic? This all gets very confusing.

At any rate, the possible silver lining to this Bolton appointment is that he won’t be hanging around at the State Department any longer, where he would very likely go out of his way to sabotage the ongoing nuclear disarmament talks between the United States and North Korea. [EDIT: Or not; Clint points out that it looks like Bolton may be spending lots of time in D.C…] Plus, Bolton’s so likely to say something brash, obnoxious, or even dangerous at the UN, that he might well embarrass the Bush administration and cause the White House to “over-correct” by taking a more modest foreign policy course or engage in smarter diplomacy. One can hope. Who knows? For super-thorough Bolton analysis, the Washington Note has much, much, much more.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.