Bush's Game Of 'Gotcha'

President Bush, left, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, right, flank John Bolton, center, as Bush announced Bolton's installation as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Monday, Aug. 1, 2005 in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) AP

This column was written by CBS News Early Show Co-Anchor Harry Smith.
I'm enough of a nonconformist that I appreciate it when anyone figures out a way to beat the system. So today's "Beat The System" award goes to President Bush

Bush designated John Bolton as his choice for ambassador to the U.N. and the nomination has been languishing for months. Democrats in the Senate had every right to ask for memos and papers relating to Bolton's views and procedures and behavior, and many of them came to the conclusion that Bolton was not the guy for the job.

"Damaged goods," as Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd called him, Bolton is the kind of guy who drives people nuts. A rock-ribbed conservative who seemed not to behave very well when confronted with news that didn't fit his world view.

It's pretty unlikely that he would have ever made it out of committee, so, of course, President Bush wanted an up or down majority rules vote.

The president has the chips to make that call in the Senate, but Senate Democrats -- as would their Republican counterparts had they been in the same boat -- were not going to play.

So the president used the power of his office to say "gotcha." Bolton's recess appointment lasts until the next congress sits down and that's not until January 2007. Plenty of time for Bolton to either prove himself worthy or show that all those suspicions were warranted. Either way, the record will eventually show that the president either used good judgment or that he was too stubborn to switch when confronted with a problem candidate.

We'll be watching.


Harry's daily commentary can be heard on manyCBS Radio News affiliates across the country.
By Harry Smith
  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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