Illlustration by Mr. Fish

Recess and bullies always seem to go together. George Bush flipped off the entire Senate and, with the principal out of view, appointed known bully and Senate-opposed John Bolton to the job of U.N. ambassador. For five months the president tried to win Senate approval of the character-challenged Bolton before the campaign fell short, buried under stories of Bolton’s abusive behavior toward subordinates and lack of basic diplomacy skills. But Bush, saying “the post is too important to leave vacant any longer,” called upon his constitutional powers to make the appointment during Congress’ recess and avoid Senate approval.

Bolton wasted no time; he immediately packed a mock grenade he keeps in his office from his days in the Reagan administration (labeled “To John Bolton — World’s Greatest Reaganite”) and flew to his new office at the U.N. building in New York, where it seems co-workers cautiously responded to his presence. Bolton has dissed the U.N. in the past, but if talks at the U.N. water coolers are a little uncomfortable, especially on the top 10 floors (Bolton had said if they disappeared it wouldn’t make a bit of difference), no one is saying.

“It’s a devious maneuver that evades the constitutional requirement of Senate consent and only further darkens the cloud over Mr. Bolton’s credibility at the U.N.”

—Senator Edward M. Kennedy

“Despite all of the warning signs and all of the red flags, the president has taken this extraordinary step to send a polarizing figure with tattered credibility to represent us at the United Nations. At a time when we need to be doing our very best to mend frayed relationships, encourage real burden-sharing and nurture a rock-solid international coalition to fight terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the American people deserve better than John Bolton.”

—Senator Russ Feingold

“I think it is all right for one ambassador to come and push, but an ambassador always has to remember that there are 190 others who will have to be convinced, or a vast majority of them, for action to take place.”

—U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan

“No one should make prejudgments on reputation. One must do it on the merit of the facts, when we see what happens here.”

—Chilean U.N. Ambassador Heraldo Munoz

“The most undesirable person was named U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, thus raising tension in the United Nations and international community. Bolton’s speaking style is so violent the North has labeled him as human scum.”

—Choson Sinbo, the newspaper run by a
Pyongyang-aligned organization of
ethnic Korean residents in Japan

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