September 7, 2006
Prediction: Lincoln Chafee Will Vote Against Bolton in Committee
UPDATE September 8th, 2006: See below.
Today, Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R?-RI, 12%) balked at the planned vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to send the renomination of John Bolton to the full senate with a recommendation to confirm:
Rhode Island Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee, the only Republican who has not publicly committed to supporting Bolton, sought more time, members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said. Chafee, locked in a tough re-election bid, faces a Republican primary election on Tuesday.
Is there any possibility, you think, that the two statements above are related?
I think it's pretty clear what's happening: if Chafee had voted for Bolton, that would have helped him in the primary -- but it would definitely damage him in the general election, where his re-election is already precarious. But if Chafee voteed against Bolton, he likely wouldn't make it to the general; because Steve Laffey, his conservative opponent in the primary -- already running neck and neck with Chafee -- would use it to win the nomination (and go on to lose the seat to the Democrat, Sheldon Whitehouse).
(One amusing side point: if Whitehouse should win, he would probably be the only senator in "the world's greatest deliberative body" who doesn't harbor any hope of becoming president, because nobody could say the words "President Whitehouse" without giggling.)
There is only one path for Chafee at this point: postpone the vote. The Rhode Island primary is next Tuesday, the 12th -- just five days away. There is no way that Chairman Dick Lugar (R-IN, 88%) can force a committee vote in the next five days; in fact, he doesn't seem even to be trying:
Committee Chairman Richard Lugar would only say a Republican member asked for the delay. He said the committee will meet on Bolton again, but did not say when.
"I'm not going to make any comments on time. It's going to require a lot of consultation with members on both sides of the aisle,'' the Indiana Republican said.
So how does this play out?
- The committee waits until after Chafee's primary to vote on the Bolton nomination;
- If Chafee wins renomination, then he must of course vote against Bolton to bolster his chances in the general election;
- If Laffey is nominated instead, then Chafee is a lame duck, and he's free to vote his conscience... which, since he's the most RINO of all RINOs in the Senate, likely means he votes against Bolton.
So pretty much any way we cut the cheese, it looks as if Lincoln Chafee plans to spike the renomination of John Bolton.
So what does that do to Bolton's chances? The Senate Foreign Relations Committee comprises nine Republicans and seven Democrats. If Chafee votes against Bolton, the absolute best the Republicans can do (unless they can flip a Democrat) is a 7-7 tie, which means Bolton is passed out of committee with no recommendation for or against.
The seven Democrats are:
Ranking Member Paul Sarbanes (MD, 100%) -- won't risk his committee status, since he would become chairman if the Democrats capture the Senate;
UPDATE: Commenter Ruthg reminds me that Sarbanes is retiring, to be replaced either by Republican Michael Steele, or by Ben Cardin or Kweise Mfume, both Democrats. So perhaps this is a fracture point; maybe Sarbanes can be persuaded to vote for Bolton, since he's leaving the Senate anyway;
- Chris Dodd (CT, 100%) -- leading the charge against Bolton;
- John F. Kerry (MA, 100%) -- possibly running for president again;
- Russell Feingold (WI, 100%) -- the most liberal Democrat in the Senate;
- Barbara Boxer (CA, 100%) -- party-line liberal and dumb as a bag of walnuts;
- Bill Nelson (FL, 80%) -- might have been a possible flip, since he's running for reelection in a Republican state. But with the nomination of Katherine Harris to run against him, he is now assured of reelection; he has no reason to run to the right;
- Barak Obama (IL, 100%) -- elected as a moderate, he quickly flipped his coat and revealed himself as a doctrinaire liberal.
I don't see any room for a surprise defection there; none of the Democrats has anything to lose, and each has everything to gain, by opposing John Bolton and poking another finger in George W. Bush's eye.
If Bolton is sent to the Senate floor with no recommendation, it will be next to impossible to get him confirmed:
- The non-recommendation would give cover to Chafee to vote against him, along with John Warner (R-VA, 88%), Lindsay Graham (R-NC, 96%), John McCain (R-AZ, 80%), Mike DeWine (D-OH, 56%)and possibly even George Voinovich (R-OH, 68%), for all that he has said he'll support Bolton this time around (he joined the filibuster against Bolton last time).
- It would also give cover to a Democratic filibuster; there are enough Democrats to prevent the vote, if they more or less stick together.
So I believe that John Bolton's renomination is dead; I would be ecstatic to be proven wrong this time... alas, I don't think I will be.
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 7, 2006, at the time of 2:50 PM
TrackBack URL for this hissing: http://biglizards.net/mt3.36/earendiltrack.cgi/1203
The following hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman
I woudl REALLY like to get rid of "virtual" filibusters.
I want to go back to the days when they had to stand up spouting nonsense hour after hour and grinding the wheels of government to a halt.
Let the American People see them.
Just for what they are and what they stand for.
The above hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman at September 7, 2006 3:36 PM
The following hissed in response by: DaveR
Then W needs to tell Frist to keep the Dems filibustering right through November 7, doesn't he?! Dems filibustering our best UN ambassador in a long time during the run-up to the election is a perfect way to illustrate how the Dems would prosecute the war on terror.... by ineffectually playing politics with our ambassador to the organization they claim is the answer to our security!
Mr. "Larkover" must be rubbing his hands in anticipation of the Dems publicly self-destructing on this.
The following hissed in response by: ruthg
Paul Sarbanes will not be committee chair. He will not be around if the Democrats win the senate since he is retiring. Michael Steele and Ben Cardin or Kweise Mfume are running for his seat.
The following hissed in response by: Big D
Boxer is "dumb as a bag of walnuts?"
You overestimate the dear senator. Or underestimate the bag of walnuts.
In fact, cracked open, the walnuts have a resemblance to a tiny brain. Ms. Boxer however, shows no evidence of containing even a resemblance of a tiny brain (much less an actual, functional brain)in her skull.
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