Media invent Obama hypocrisy on recess appointments
Several media reports have suggested President Obama is hypocritical for making recess appointments because he criticized President Bush in 2005 for bypassing the Senate when he appointed John Bolton as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. But Obama was not generally criticizing recess appointments; rather, he — along with at least two Republicans — specifically argued that a recess appointment for such a high-profile diplomatic position could affect the United States’ credibility and leverage in the U.N.
Obama said Bolton’s recess appointment “means that we will have less credibility” at U.N.
Obama reportedly said the U.S. will have less “credibility” because there has never been an U.N. ambassador “who couldn’t get through a nomination in the Senate.” Context of Obama’s comments shows that he was specifically arguing that the nature of Bolton’s appointment to the U.N. would damage the United States’ credibility, and that we would “ironically be less equipped to reform the United Nations.” From an August 2, 2005, The State Journal-Register (Springfield, Illinois) article (accessed via Nexis):
Obama, who also participated in the news conference, called the appointment “a mistake.”
“To some degree, he’s damaged goods,” Obama said of Bolton. “Not in the history of United Nations representatives have we ever had a recess appointment, somebody who couldn’t get through a nomination in the Senate. And I think that that means that we will have less credibility and ironically be less equipped to reform the United Nations in the way that it needs to be reformed.”
Obama said Bolton has “a lot of ideological baggage,” and having a short-term appointee at the United Nations means the United States will have less leverage to carry out reforms.
Parts of the United Nations, including peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts, are “terrifically efficient operations,” Obama said. But other areas are “run like a patronage operation.”
In a recent visit to the United Nations, Obama said he was “struck by the degree to which people didn’t have a lot of confidence in John Bolton.”
“I think he’s a very bright man,” Obama said. “I think he’s somebody who could have served the United States ably in another position. But he’s not a diplomat.”
Voinovich, Lott also criticized Bolton’s recess appointment
Voinovich reportedly made comments similar to Obama’s about Bolton’s recess appointment potentially harming his “credibility with the United Nations.” An August 2, 2005, Chicago Tribune article reported: “Republicans, who have cast Mr. [National Labor Relations Board nominee Craig] Becker as a pro-labor radical, issued a flurry of angry statements. They wasted little time in reminding reporters that when George W. Bush was president, then-Senator Obama had railed against the recess appointment of John R. Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations, saying that Mr. Bolton would be ‘damaged goods’ and lacked credibility without Senate confirmation.”