Bolton Isn’t Permanent

President Bush just announced he was installing John Bolton as ambassador to the UN with a recess appointment.

Bush and Bolton repeatedly described his appointment as “permanent,” which has been the administration’s talking point for the last several days.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack last Friday:

We need a Permanent Representative up in New York. Ambassador Patterson is doing a great job up there with her team on the issue of UN reform, but the United States, at this important moment in the debate about UN reform and what areas we move forward on, we need a Perm Rep up there.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan last Friday:

We need our permanent representative in place at the United States at this critical time. There is an effort underway to move forward on comprehensive reform The United Nations will be having their General Assembly meeting in September, and it’s important that we get our permanent representative in place.

Of course, installing Bolton does not give the United States a “permanent” representative to the UN in any real sense. His term will expire in January 2007, which is little more than a year and a half away. If the administration was really interested in a representative with some permanence, President Bush would nominate a candidate who could be confirmed by the Senate.

UPDATE: A number of commenters note that “permanent” is part of Bolton’s official title. That’s true. But the point of the post is that, just a few days ago, the administration decided to start emphasizing the word “permanent” as part of their talking points justifying Bolton’s recess appointment. Note that when Condoleezza Rice introduced Rice on March 7, she referred as “Ambassador to the United Nations” not “U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations.”