Bill Frist is hurting.
"It is recognized that this gang of seven has weakened him," said Paul M. Weyrich, a veteran conservative activist and Frist supporter, referring to the Republicans who circumvented the majority leader to avert a potentially explosive showdown on prohibiting filibusters against judicial nominees.
As he darted between appearances at a Nascar race and the Harvard Medical School over the Memorial Day recess, Dr. Frist acknowledged the criticism aimed his way in the aftermath of the judicial pact and the filibuster against John R. Bolton, the nominee to be ambassador to the United Nations.
But in an interview, he said he believed his stewardship would be vindicated in the days ahead once he shepherded through a string of legislation and judicial nominees. That should begin this week, he added, with votes on Janice Rogers Brown and William H. Pryor Jr., two federal appeals court candidates whose nominations have been filibustered by Democrats.
There's plenty of time to see what happens to Fristie. I don't think winning on these two judges, while it's bad for Dems (and the country) , is good for Frist. The bad taste is still there. And next comes John Bolton.
John R. Bolton flew to Europe in 2002 to confront the head of a global arms-control agency and demand he resign, then orchestrated the firing of the unwilling diplomat in a move a U.N. tribunal has since judged unlawful, according to officials involved.
A former Bolton deputy says the U.S. undersecretary of state felt Jose Bustani "had to go," particularly because the Brazilian was trying to send chemical weapons inspectors to Baghdad. That might have helped defuse the crisis over alleged Iraqi weapons and undermined a U.S. rationale for war.
Bustani, who says he got a "menacing" phone call from Bolton at one point, was removed by a vote of just one-third of member nations at an unusual special session of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), at which the United States cited alleged mismanagement in calling for his ouster.
The United Nations' highest administrative tribunal later condemned the action as an "unacceptable violation" of principles protecting international civil servants. The OPCW session's Swiss chairman now calls it an "unfortunate precedent" and Bustani a "man with merit."
"Many believed the U.S. delegation didn't want meddling from outside in the Iraq business," said the retired Swiss diplomat, Heinrich Reimann. "That could be the case."
I have said for awhile I thought Bolton would be confirmed. Bush, Cheney, and now Frist must have this vote. Steve Clemons says Repub opponents are still antsy and getting more and more nervous – and that was before the Newsday article.
They sure do make it hard on themselves. And I don't know if Frist is up to the task at hand. If he blows it on Bolton (remember, Rove and the WH wanted Bolton to go up before the Nuclear Option), I don't see how "his stewardship would be vindicated". All I see is that he's toast.