A word on the offers of support for John Bolton, which have been pouring into this blog since I observed a few days ago that he’s the best ambassador we’ve had at the UN since Jeane Kirkpatrick, and America needs him now more than ever.
When I wrote that, I threw in a whimsical note — reflecting on the big money poured into the UN by various left-leaning outfits, such as Ted Turner’s UN Foundation. If the Senate won’t confirm Bolton, the only option is for President Bush to make another recess appointment, in which case Bolton would not be paid. So, I wondered if it might not do more good via the UN if people stopped collecting for UNICEF and instead began collecting for Bolton.
It struck a chord. About 80 readers — a lot of traffic for a relatively new blog — have now replied to Joltin’ Bolton, and it is fascinating to scroll through the comments. As far as I can tell, these are not big well-heeled organizations, but grass-roots Americans. Most are offering to put their money where their convictions are, many are ready to pledge anywhere from $50 to $1,000, saying “Count me in,” asking where to contribute, and who might be willing to organize this.
As a journalist, I am in no position to organize a political campaign, or collect money for anyone, nor have I explored the actual mechanics –legal, financial or political — of such an idea. I have not spoken with Bolton about this, nor do I know what the administration has in mind — beyond the news that Bush has resubmitted Bolton’s nomination, and that Bolton today told the Associated Press he is still hoping as the clock runs out for a vote that would confirm him. But I invite and can continue to post comments, and this much I am certainly in a position to say:
The only country even trying to exercise serious and badly needed oversight at the UN is the United States. And even from the U.S., there has been appallingly little oversight. The State Department, which couldn’t even bring itself to send up flares at the time over the massively corrupt UN Oil-for-Food program, has in the main glossed over UN corruption and misconduct for years, often misleading U.S. taxpayers about the UN’s abuse not only of taxpayer funds, but of its own mandate. Bolton is a rare exception. In Congress, oversight has come mainly from the Republican side, on a few committees — where if the Democrats do not now take up this job, there will be almost none. If Bolton goes, it is highly unlikely that anyone as skilled and clear-thinking would replace him. That would leave nothing and no one to try to keep the UN honest — financially or politically — but the press. That’s something, but with an institution still as opaque and unaccountable as the UN, it is not enough. What the readers offering support to Bolton have understood — even if much of Washington does not — is that in an increasingly dangerous world, Bolton’s nomination is about things far more important than a Washington partisan catfight. This is about having an ambassador at the UN who will do his job, not by covering up UN failings, but by representing America’s best interests.
The UN, which prefers to operate with impunity, is much entwined by now with a wide array of well-organized “outreach” groups, peddling its causes and views. Again, especially with the grass-roots support that seems to be out there for someone like Bolton, I wonder why there isn’t more in the way of an organized response.