18
Apr
05

Bullies need not apply

Inside Politics

Mark Shields, nationally known columnist and commentator, is the moderator of CNN’s “The Capital Gang.”

Bullies need not apply

Monday, April 18, 2005 Posted: 11:01 AM EDT (1501 GMT)

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ASHINGTON (Creators Syndicate) — Tell me that Bob Jones III, the president of the segregationist South Carolina university of the same name, has been nominated as chairman of the Civil Rights Commission.

Tell me that Father Dan Berrigan, the antiwar Jesuit priest, had just been named commandant of the Marine Corps or that Sir Elton John will be the new president of the Teamsters Union.

But don’t tell me that the United States Senate, which likes to be called the “the world’s greatest deliberative body” will vote to confirm President Bush’s pick of John Bolton to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

John Bolton has what conservatives used to call “book smarts.” He is a distinguished alumnus of a New Haven school that is the alma mater of both Presidents Bush, Yale, as well as of that same university’s law school.

He has a long record of federal appointments, including service as a U.S. assistant attorney general, assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs, and from 2001 to 2005, as under secretary of state for arms control.

Bolton on paper has strong credentials. What John Bolton tragically lacks, according to the first-hand testimony of people who have worked with him, is the human touch or mature temperament so important in a colleague and so indispensable in a diplomat.

In closed door sessions with the committee, one CIA official and three State Department officials recounted two episodes in which Bolton attempted to remove intelligence analysts who had upset him. They had told him that there was no conclusive evidence to support the claim he intended to make in a speech to the conservative Heritage Foundation that Cuba had a program of biological weapons of mass destruction that could threaten the United States. While denying he sought to get the analysts fired, Bolton admitted that he did try to get them moved to other jobs.

Bolton is the classic swaggerer who never served in uniform but conspicuously places on his office desk a brass hand grenade. Carl W. Ford, a self-identified conservative Republican and the former chief of State Department intelligence, testified to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that John Bolton is a bully, a “serial abuser” of subordinates and a “kiss-up, kick-down” type. In 2005 or any other year, the nation’s capital does not need another bully in a position of power.

Sucking up to your superiors and mistreating, even tormenting, your juniors is unprincipled but, sadly, not uncommon. Character, or the lack thereof, is revealed in how someone with power treats someone without power and without the capacity to retaliate.

If the United States senators take at all seriously their responsibility to “advise and consent” to the nominations the president makes, then they have to talk to and listen to the dedicated professionals and “little people” who have, during his years in public office, had John Bolton as a boss.

Supporters of Bolton have defended his history of contemptuous public statements about the value and mission of the United Nations by comparing him to one of this nation’s most respected ambassadors to the United Nations, the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Moynihan never hesitated to publicly criticize actions or inactions of the world body he deemed hypocritical or intellectually indefensible.

But, unlike John Bolton, Pat Moynihan believed profoundly in the importance and the possibility of the United Nations and its charter, of which he wrote, “It is of inestimable value that these are the proclaimed standards of the nations of the world to which they are bound by solemn covenant.” You will never hear a red-meat, tough guy like John Bolton expressing such sentiments.

Character, it has been written, is destiny. Temperament really does matter. Abuse of subordinates is not to be rewarded. A bully is never a leader. The Senate should reject President George W. Bush’s nomination of John Bolton to the United Nations.

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