Bolton v. Rice

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice demonstrated her typical White House loyalty over the weekend, praising John Bolton on the Sunday news shows and telling the Washington Times he was her “first choice.”

But news reports suggest a different story. Newsweek claims that Bolton wasn’t Rice’s choice at all — that he was actually proposed as U.N. ambassador by Vice President Cheney, Bush adviser Karl Rove and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card:

John Bolton didn’t particularly want this job. And Condoleezza Rice didn’t especially want to be introducing Bolton as America’s next ambassador to the United Nations, some Bush administration officials say. … Rice, the new secretary of State, had refused to make him her chief deputy despite what even Bolton’s friends admit was his intense campaign to win that post last fall. No surprise, then, that Rice seemed ill at ease last week, her smile dimmer than usual, says one official at the announcement. “It was utterly inconceivable that this was her initiative,” said the official.

And no wonder. Take Iran, now one of the administration’s top foreign policy priorities. A few months back, Bolton was mocking the very notion of EU diplomacy with Iran: “I don’t do carrots,” he said. Well, Bolton may not, but Secretary Rice clearly does. (An 11/23/04 Financial Times report noted that Bolton, then in the running for deputy secretary of state, was “said to have clashed with Rice over Iran and North Korea in the past,” and “may be moving instead to work with vice-president Dick Cheney.”)


Also interesting is the fact that just four days after Bolton’s nomination, Secretary Rice created a brand new State Department position — Senior Adviser to the Secretary of State on United Nations Reform — and filled it with the decidedly more moderate Shirin Tahir-Kheli.

Long story short: there’s serious daylight between Secretary Rice and John Bolton, and Americans deserve to know just how much there is before the Senate signs off on Bolton’s nomination.