John Bolton for Secretary of State?
Mitt Romney is bringing a lot to the table from a foreign policy prospective with which to be concerned. The GOP nominee recently said that he didn’t need congressional approval to go war with Iran, taking the executive power acquired under President Barack Obama, who bombed Syria without congressional approval, to the next step.
Just as concerning is that Romney is rumored to be considering John Bolton, who served as UN Ambassador in the Bush Administration, for Secretary of State:
Former Reagan administration Navy Secretary John Lehman, a current Romney adviser, is said to be a favorite for defense secretary. Also being mentioned for the top Pentagon post is former Sen. Jim Talent, Missouri Republican and also a current Romney adviser. Mr. Talent headed a blue-ribbon commission on preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
John R. Bolton, the U.N. ambassador during the George W. Bush administration and specialist on arms control and security issues, is said to be a leading candidate for secretary of state.
Paula Dobriansky, another former Reagan administration official, is said to be eyed for a senior State Department post as well.
Bolton is very popular among conservatives, but as Daniel Larison, who, like me, finds the this prospect to be very concerning, notes that there is a good chance that he won’t be confirmed by the Senate to the post:
That’s a terrifying prospect, but it’s also not very surprising. Many of Romney’s foreign policy views sound very much like Bolton’s. Bolton is a prominent supporter of Romney. There is every reason to assume that Romney will govern in a fashion that would generally satisfy Bolton. The hope that Romney’s foreign policy statements are all campaign posturing and don’t mean anything has always been just that–a hope. The fact that Bolton is even being considered for this position ought to provide all the confirmation anyone needs that Romney’s positions on Iran and Russia in particular are more than just election-year demagoguery.
Someone might object that Bolton has a very poor chance of being confirmed for this position. It’s possible that Romney wouldn’t be willing to go through a contentious, losing confirmation battle at the very beginning of his term. For that reason, he might not nominate someone as polarizing and controversial as Bolton. On the other hand, perhaps it is a mistake to assume that Bolton couldn’t be confirmed. It is still fairly unusual for a new administration’s major Cabinet nominations to be blocked by the other party. We should assume that a Bolton nomination is quite possible in the event of a Romney victory, and a Bolton confirmation might be as well.
Given the partisanship in Washington and the decent chance that Democrats could still have a the majority in the Senate, I have a hard time believing that Bolton would get the call. If he does win what will almost certainly be a contentious election, Romney will probably go with safe picks rather than getting into a confirmation fight.
But the fact that Bolton’s name is even being considered is, well, scary.