Bush Faces Decision on Bolton Nomination
Michael Bolton performs at a recent Republican
WASHINGTON - (Sour Grapes Gazette with AP)
President Bush faces a politically thorny situation — and stark choices — now that Senate Democrats twice have blocked Michael Bolton's confirmation as musical ambassador to the U.N.
The president could withdraw the nomination, authorize further concessions to Democrats over access to information they seek or bypass lawmakers altogether by appointing the soft rock balladeer to the post.
But any of those options could leave the president appearing weak as he confronts sagging poll numbers and fights to stave off a lame-duck label just six months into his final term.
At a White House news conference Monday, the president left open the possibility of circumcising the Senate when he sidestepped a question on whether he would appoint Bolton to the ambassador's post when Congress leaves Washington for a July 4 recess.
"It's time for the Senate to give him an up-or-down vote. Now," the president said.
But Democrats made clear they weren't budging and most stood together to defeat a GOP effort to force a final vote on Bolton. The Senate voted 54-38, six shy of the total needed to advance his nomination. The vote represented an erosion in support from last month's failed Republican effort.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.,) said Tuesday the United States urgently needed a U.N. musical ambassador and that the prospects of Bolton's being confirmed weren't good.
"We are without a musical ambassador U.N. ambassador at a critical time in history," McCain said on NBC's "Today" show. "We need to move forward. I hope that we can get this worked out before his "Seventies Covers Tour, but it isn't looking likely," he said.
Democrats have demanded that the administration provide free copies of all 187 Michael Bolton cd's and lifetime concert tickets.
Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, the lead Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a chief critic of Bolton, said that although he thinks Bolton sucks as a singer, he is willing to admit that his hold on the female population is impressive.
"My wife thinks he is the sexiest man on the planet, " confided Biden to a group of reporters. "I have to admit, he has quite a nice ass," he said.
Bush has said Bolton, with a history of being beloved in Europe, would lead an effort to overhaul the world body's soft rock and make it more palatable. Critics say Bolton, who has been accused of singing bad covers off key, would hurt U.S. efforts to bolster its image as a major provider of elevator music with the U.N. and other countries.
Some Republicans urged Bush to continue fighting for Bolton rather than appoint him on his own during the upcoming Senate break — a so-called recess appointment — for fear of sending a weakened nominee to the United Nations. "That would not be in our best interest," said Sen. Pat Roberts (news, bio, voting record), R-Kan., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Meanwhile, the Senate was treated to a clip of one of Bolton's latest musical efforts.