What's All This Then?

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Friday, May 13, 2005

It isn’t an original thought to say that this Bush administration doesn’t just want to govern - it wants to rule - but it’s worth saying it again to help me - and maybe some who read my blog - to keep what’s going on in our dear land in focus.

It’s there every day in the House and Senate . The almost total refusal to compromise on matters that cry out for compromise and eschewing partisan politics. But it’s not happening. And they’re taking their lead from their President who not only refuses to negotiate with himself but refuses to back away from anyone he nominates for any position no matter how clear it becomes that he might have made a mistake. I’m not so sure he’d have backed away from Bernard Kerik if Kerik hadn’t removed himself from consideration as Homeland Security Chief when all of his personal garbage got splashed across the front pages of the nation’s newspapers.

His insistence upon pushing the nomination of John Bolton for the United Nations is typical of his refusal to ever acknowledge that he might have made a mistake. Some might argue that Clinton was equally stubborn with his nomination of Richard Holbrooke for the same job, but you can’t compare the Bolton situation with the lengthy hold that Jesse Helms and other Republican Senators put on the nomination of Holbrooke for UN Ambassador. There weren’t any Democratic Senators publicly saying that Clinton had made a bad choice - that there were better people than Holbrooke for the job. And when he did get confirmed in 1999, the vote was 81 to 16!!

Any bets on what the final Bolton vote will be?

But what I really w ant to talk about today is a word that I heard someone use - I think it was John Stewart on the Daily Show. "Voinoviched." We’ve been "Voinoviched." On April 22, I was nominating the Senator from Ohio for Person of the Week" because of his refusal to blindly endorse sending the vote on Bolton to the full Senate. And there he was again yesterday, saying that "the United States can do better than John Bolton" and other disparaging things about the man - and then voting to send his nomination to the Senate floor where the disciplined Republican majority will confirm him. Nothing like Holbrooke’s 81 to 16, but enough to send him to the UN where of course the rest of the world is waiting to welcome him with open arms. With him there, they figure there won’t be any chance of anyone knocking off all those floors he said they could do without.

I don’t know if "voinoviched" will stick, but maybe something like "he pulled a voinovich" or "the guy’s nothing but a voinovich" will. I think it might because we don’t really have a catchword or catch phrase to describe the politician who lives his whole political life the way Voinovich performed yesterday.

I’m sure he considers himself sincere and others think of him as being heroic, but his story is a classic case of having his political cake and eating it too.

Members of the US Senate have extraordinary power and influence. A single Senator has the ability to hold up or derail major bills and presidential nominations. Had Voinovich voted not to send the Bolton nomination to the full Senate, the committee vote would have been nine to nine and the nomination would have been dead. But he voted yes while making sure the world knew he would vote no on the Senate floor.

Isn’t that special? A Republican willing to vote his conscience on the Senate floor instead of following the party line. And doing it with total coverage. Knowing full well that the votes are there to confirm, he can vote no boldly - satisfying moderate Ohio voters who agree with his take on Bolton, and maneuvering himself into a position to be forgiven by the extreme conservatives who have been labeling him a traitor for his remarks in committee three weeks ago.

How does a politician live his life "Voinoviching?" I’ll give you the prime example. The anti-tax candidate or incumbent. The guy who proudly proclaims that he has never voted for a tax or a tax increase. He doesn’t vote for new taxes or for tax increases because he doesn’t have to. There’s already a majority that he knows will carry the day and enact those hated tax laws - and he can hide behind that majority, claiming that he was a lone voice railing against the tax and spend juggernaut. And enough suckers buy it and elect or re-elect him.

I’m not saying that Voinovich is someone like that, even though I’m suggesting his name be coined to describe people like that. But he had a chance to be more than an asterisk or an afterthought in the history books and he blew it - using the hackneyed "the President deserves an up or down vote" excuse to allow others to do the dirty work that he could have stopped in its tracks.

I do NOT nominate George v Voinovich of Ohio as this week’s ABC Person of the Week.