WASHINGTON – President Bush’s streak of picking nominees with precisely the opposite qualifications than what are needed for their respective posts is alive and well as his nominee for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week. Bolton, who once said “there is no such thing as the United Nations,” is the latest in a line of terrible nominees that includes Condoleezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, Alberto Gonzalez, John Negroponte, and the king of them all, Bernard Kerik.
“Let me tell you what I do, how I work to keep this streak going,” Bush said from his family’s Crawford, Texas ranch, where he is meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to make him feel as uncomfortable as humanly possible. “What I do is, I think about what’s needed in the position, and who would be good at it. Then I stop doing that because I realize I don’t know. Then I call in my assistant Marjorie, and ask her who would be the worst person, so that it seems like I know the best person and I’m asking her only the worst person. You see? But then she says, like, for Attorney General, ‘Well, we need someone who respects the law and citizens’ rights, so Alberto Gonzalez would definitely be the last person you’d want.’ You know, because he was kind of for torture. But then just to kind of get Marjorie’s goat, I pick him. Isn’t that great? So here, I said, you know, ‘Marjorie, who’s the worst?’ And she said, ‘Well, for the U.N. ambassadorship, you’re going to want someone with respect and knowledge for the United Nations and all it stands for. So definitely not Bolton, because he said it doesn’t exist.’ But then I went and picked him! Oh, you should have seen Marjorie’s face.”
Asked why he takes such a nonchalant approach when so much is at stake, the president replied, “Well, what’s nonchalant about it? I think it’s very chalant. So we disagree.”
Bolton, for his part, was tired after Obvious Monday, the first day of hearings where he was grilled by Democrats and supported by Republicans. “What’s the big deal about saying the U.N. doesn’t exist?” he asked rhetorically, wiping sweat from his brow. “Does that mean I shouldn’t work there? I mean, I don’t think Santa Claus exists, but that shouldn’t preclude me from working for him. Wait. I’m upset. I’m not making sense. Santa and the U.N. aren’t the same thing, right? Help me out here. Which one’s the group of nations?”
Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee also questioned Bolton about allegations that he pushed to have colleagues at the State Department fired after they publicly disagreed with him about intelligence assessments he made regarding Cuba. “I never had anyone fired,” Bolton insisted. “That’s absurd to the point of being really, really absurd. I had one guy’s wife held in a bunker underground until he took back what he said. Is that illegal now, too? God, I just don’t understand this place anymore.”