What the Heck Happened With Voinovich Today?
Today the Bolton vote was supposed to be a slamdunk. As Senator Lugar put it early in the hearing: "We were not born yesterday. The Republicans want to vote for John Bolton, and there are 10 Republicans here." Nothing was to get in the way of moving the Bolton nomination to the floor where the Republicans would sign off on Bush's personal bomb thrower. But something funny happened today.
It was unprecedented. And Josh Marshall wonders what happened to Voinovich:
I'm still quite curious about the Voinovich backstory. Must have been some pretty engrossing subcommittee hearings if he hadn't heard about the charges leveled against Bolton.
Actually, it seems probable that it is only because Voinovich had not paid any attention to the earlier hearings was it possible for him to listen to his fellow committee members with an open mind.
It was clear that Lugar was going to do the President's bidding and nothing was going to defer him even though he has frequently indicated that he cares about how the US conducts foreign policy and that he believes the President has not done enough to work with our allies.
The Republican enforcers knew that they would need to make it very clear to Hagel and Chafee that they would pay if they did not toe the line and today it was obvious that they certainly had learned their lesson. For Hagel, it appeared that he just wanted to get this behind him. He said he was willing to vote the nomination out of committee but he personally did not believe that Bolton should be the UN ambassador.
Voinovich on the other hand had not been identified as a potential problem and hadn't even spent much time worrying about this particular vote. He had come into the room prepared to vote for Bolton. But he because he hadn't gone through the process of hearing the charges and then rationalizing why it was still okay to vote for Bolton during the past few weeks, he was absolutely open to the new information he was hearing.
One of the more interesting aspects of watching this hearing is how extraordinary the pressure was on the committee to put this nomination on the fast track. The White House knew that this nomination would create an intense firestorm if John Bolton and his character hung out for inspection for too long. Throughout the hearing, Lugar looked incredibly uncomfortable. He must know he is actively collaborating in trying to destroy an institution that, although flawed, is still the only real organization that we have to work with others throughout the world.
We've won a real victory for our nation. When the committee finally does vote, even if Voinovich is browbeaten into going along with the plan and moving this nomination to the full Senate, Bolton's confirmation is not assured because Senator Reid has let the Senate Democrats know that they should not be afraid to use the filibuster against this nomination. From the beginning it was evident that Bush wanted a rumble on this nomination. He definitely has one now.
Kudos to Senator Voinovich for his courage in saying he was not ready to vote to move the nomination to the floor. And how wonderful to see the Democrats do such a standup job on protecting our nation's interests.
Liberal Oasis has a link to this extraordinary hearing.