NEW YORK – A bipartisan who's who of New York politics offered their official welcome Tuesday of U.S. Ambassador John Bolton (search).
Aside from some jibes about Bolton's 1994 comment that it wouldn't make a "bit of difference" if the top 10 floors of the United Nations vanished from the U.N.'s landmark 39-story headquarters, the group of luncheon speakers lavished him with praise.
"I'm confident John Bolton will bring peace to the world before he brings peace to his relations with The New York Times," said former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (search), a Republican. In an editorial, the newspaper opposed Bolton's nomination to the U.N. post.
When Secretary-General Kofi Annan (search) got up to speak, he said, "I hope John Bolton will take up the challenge of Henry Kissinger. I would love to read the title, 'Bolton brings peace to the world."'
Bolton was given a recess appointment by President Bush as ambassador to the United Nations on Aug. 1 after failing to win confirmation in the U.S. Senate.
The conservative arms control expert took up his new job just six weeks before this month's U.N. summit where world leaders adopted a watered-down blueprint to help reduce global poverty and enable the U.N. to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
New York Mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat, said he followed Bolton's confirmation hearings very closely "and I thought the people who voted against him were nuts."
"I think he is in the great tradition of Pat Moynihan," Koch said, referring to the late New York Democratic senator and former U.N. ambassador who was renowned for his outspoken and independent thinking.
Bolton dismissed all debate about whether the Bush administration is unilateralist or multilateralist: "What I do every morning is get up and ask myself how I'm going to advance the interests and values of the United States."