Battle Over Bolton or Bush?

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," April 26, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.


ADAM ERELI, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: The U.S. representative to the U.N. needs to be a strong and forceful advocate for the United States — for reform and for the interests of America around the world. John Bolton has demonstrated, in his 25 years of service to the nation, that he is eminently qualified for this position.


ANDREW NAPOLITANO, GUEST HOST: Another forceful comment by the Bush administration on behalf of the president's pick to be U.N. ambassador. Democrats keeping up the pressure, though, raising questions about John Bolton's (search) temperament. But is this really about Mr. Bolton or is it really about the president's foreign policy?

I'm joined now by Frank Gaffney, former assistant secretary of defense, and Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, former Democratic senator from Illinois.

Today's big question: We'll start with you, Secretary Gaffney. Why are the Democrats trying to block the Bolton nomination?

FRANK GAFFNEY, FOUNDER & PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR SECURITY POLICY: Judge, as you say, I don't think this is about his qualifications. Even Democrats stipulate that he is qualified. Nor do I think it's about his views on intelligence or his conduct with respect to intelligence.

Andy McCarthy had a terrific piece in National Review Online about that, quoting the Silberman-Robb report recently, saying: "This is exactly the kind of behavior you need. Somebody who will press intelligence analysts, not politicize, but press them for the right answers. It's not even about how he treats other human beings."

The most recent example of somebody claiming to have been badly abused by him is somebody who The New York Times has described as somebody who believes in self-hypnosis and recovered memory, something that is prone to be false.

This is about policy. John Bolton understood that the U.N. needed to be reformed long before that became the sort of received or conventional wisdom. He's the kind of guy who has demonstrated an ability to get things done, even in institutions and bureaucracies that are resistant to change. He's exactly the right kind of guy. And I think the Democrats want to talk about anything else but that, because, in the end, they really don't think the U.N. should be structurally, systemically and fundamentally transformed.

NAPOLITANO: OK, Senator Moseley Braun, if you strip aside the personality part of this and if you strip aside the politics, I mean, George Bush won. He's the president. He gets to appoint virtually anyone he wants. Isn't this man qualified for this job?

CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN, FORMER U.S. SENATOR, D-IL: This is about the Senate exercising its constitutional duty to advise and consent on nominees for important positions.

There is no question, I think, in anyone in the international community that Mr. Bolton is the equivalent of sending a pit bull into the china shop. The United Nations representative has to work with people from all over the world, has to have the ability to engage on issues in ways that will inspire confidence by the intelligence communities.


NAPOLITANO: But, Senator Moseley Braun, with 25 years in the State Department or in diplomatic related jobs, doesn't that make him qualified enough? Put aside the personality part.

BRAUN: Well, you can't put aside — putting together the personality is again saying put a pit bull in with a lamb. I mean, you cannot put aside the fact that Mr. Bolton has a record of clashing with intelligence officials, of being undiplomatic in his holding forth, of not having the capacity to deal with people from other parts of the world and other nations.

Remember, he's got to deal with people from all over — or the nominee for the United Nations has to deal with people from all over the world in ways that will facilitate United States' interests and ways that will promote our interests and make us look good on the world stage.


BRAUN: And Mr. Bolton does not have the ability to do that. He's been a bully. He's been a bigot. He's been just a bad guy in terms of his dealings with the public.


NAPOLITANO: I have got to tell you.

GAFFNEY: Madam Ambassador, please.

NAPOLITANO: And I was going to go to Secretary Gaffney.

I think you're unfair saying he's been a bigot.


NAPOLITANO: He has done more to address the U.N.'s attitude about Zionism than any other American. And he brought about a very, very amicable result there.

BRAUN: Consider for a moment that he was the protégé of Senator Jesse Helms.


BRAUN: And he worked with Senator Helms in their efforts to bash the United Nations at every front. This is no secret to anybody.


NAPOLITANO: Secretary Gaffney, isn't it possible that maybe the president wants a bull in a china shop? I mean, the U.N. sends peacekeepers to the Congo to rape young children. Maybe this institution needs to be shook to its very foundations, and the president wants John Bolton to do that.

GAFFNEY: Well, as I say, everybody — and I think probably even Carol Moseley Braun — agrees the U.N. is dysfunctional today and needs to be reformed.

John Bolton understood that long before it became fashionable. And had his advice been followed years ago, maybe we wouldn't have seen women and children raped by peacekeepers under U.N. auspices. Maybe we wouldn't have seen the Oil-for-Food scandal ripping off billions of dollars from the Iraqi people. Maybe we would have seen the institution move back towards what it was supposed to be about at the beginning, namely, a place that respected and protected freedom and helped expand it.

This isn't about pit bulls or lambs or china shops. This is about an institution that is broken that needs leadership.


GAFFNEY: The United States can provide that leadership. And John Bolton is the kind of guy who has demonstrated, not only he's not bigoted, but that he is...


NAPOLITANO: We're out of time.

BRAUN: You guys want to talk about everything but John Bolton's record.


NAPOLITANO: Secretary Gaffney, Senator Moseley Braun, thank you very much.


GAFFNEY: ... talking about his record, Madam Ambassador. Precisely.


BRAUN: You can't say it's not about his personality.

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