publisher's note
June 14, 2005


Attention Democrats: The public doesn’t care about the Bolton nomination
by Bruce Rodgers

If the Democrats think that their continued opposition to the nomination of former under secretary of state John R. Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations is capturing the attention of the American public and proving that “the party of the working people” stands for something, they’re dead wrong.

After the Democratic cave-in to Republican threats of using the “nuclear option” in the Senate filibuster confrontation — a compromise that led to the confirmation of three conservative judges bent on further eroding the wall between church and state, shredding environmental protection regulations and sweetening the path for corporate hegemony over community good — the fight against the Bolton nomination can be viewed as pathetic at best.

For progressives, the Bolton nomination is just one more bad choice from an administration that has made nothing but bad — and dangerous — choices for the United States. America is hated worldwide. Our only friends are a couple of despots suppressing their people in former Soviet republics and a British prime minister marked for history as Bush’s lap dog.

For conservatives, Bolton deserves an up or down vote because he’s the president’s choice. I agree; besides, being an ambassador to the United Nations has nothing to do with domestic policy, and it’s a good bet that if Bolton takes the position, his upward mobility in government will cease. The ambassadorship is not a steppingstone to greater political heights.

Bush likely picked Bolton as a capitulation to Vice President Dick Cheney’s worldview of power over diplomacy. Also, the Republicans are hopeful someone like Bolton will stop “reforms” at the United Nations that the Bush administration is afraid of, such things as adding new members to the Security Council — Germany, India, Japan and Brazil are mentioned most frequently — and giving the Security Council the power to override the veto power of a permanent member(s) — United States, China, France Britain and Russia.

Democrats are wrong if they think blocking Bolton is going to change the administration’s view. And they share the blame for America’s demise along with the Republicans. This country has lost its moral bearing — governed by greedy and unscrupulous men. We are not the model of freedom and fairness for the rest of the world.

With Bolton, it’s a continuation of the bad in which the United Nations will survive — if for no other reason that the small and developing nations need it — and American influence will continue to wane. So what the guy treated subordinates badly and that he may have used intelligence to spy on his enemies. Let Bolton wreak havoc; we may be in for a surprise to learn that it means less to the rest of the world to have someone like him there than we think.

Democrats need to know that the Bolton nomination ranks around fiftieth in priorities when it comes to the problems this country — and the average American — is facing. And that the general view beyond the D.C. beltway is that Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Joseph Biden and Sen. Christopher Dodd are just grandstanding and that any argument about the importance of the minority party’s voice and the Senate’s role to “advise and consent” fell apart when Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor were confirmed to life-time appointments on the bench.

The relevance of the Democratic Party continues to grow as an open question. Liberals and progressives, defenders of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and those possessed with a long view of what the country needs feel nothing but disappointment in the actions and inactions of the Democrats.

There exists a political vacuum, and it’s not in the middle. The middle is moving left; the polls continue to show that the majority of the public want government in their lives, want government’s help, know that government has a responsibility to the average citizen; and people increasingly recognize that political power and representative democracy is slipping away from them.

(Go to, a Web site for the Center on Policy Attitudes to see data indicating the gap between what Americans want from government and what the current political leadership delivers. Polls show that the majority of Americans want cuts in defense spending, want deficit reduction, want increased spending on education and job training, want to reduce reliance on oil and want to increase spending on veterans’ benefits and medical research.)

The end-times are closing in on the right. To many Americans, the relationship between money and influence and special interest governing has never been more apparent. The question remains whether the Democrats will be part of a new political upheaval that’s coming.

Bruce Rodgers can be contacted at


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