President Bush's choice of John Bolton to represent the U.S. at the United Nations was meant to roil the diplomatic world. The man is outspoken in his derision of the international organization and famous for his fiery language against countries that oppose American wishes. But there is a saying in Washington that you meet on the way down all the people you stepped over on the way up. And that is what appears to have put Senate approval of the controversial nomination in jeopardy.
In the seven weeks since Bush named him, Bolton has been getting reacquainted with some of those people he offended during a 24-year career in the Federal Government. They are, among others, the two intelligence analysts who claim that as a senior State Department official during Bush's first term, Bolton tried to have them fired or reassigned when they disagreed with him; the foreign-aid worker who says Bolton, then a private attorney, chased her down a Moscow hotel hallway in 1994 in an effort to intimidate her; and the former U.S. ambassador to South Korea who complained that Bolton had misled the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by suggesting that the ambassador had approved an incendiary speech Bolton made about North Korea in 2003.
Such charges have raised new questions about Bolton's treatment of subordinates, his pressure on intelligence analysts to support his views and the candor of his testimony. They also broke what had been unanimous G.O.P. support in the Senate for Bolton's nomination. The 10 Republicans on the Senate committee seemed ready to pass his nomination on to the full chamber until one of their own unexpectedly balked. "My conscience got me," said Ohio Republican George Voinovich in a declaration, rare for its spontaneity in political Washington, that put Bolton's confirmation on hold last week.
But the hardest blow may have come two days later from Colin Powell, when word leaked with conspicuous speed across the capital that the former Secretary of State had privately conveyed his doubts about Bolton to two other wavering G.O.P. Senators. Powell reportedly praised Bolton's intellect and his work in some areas but told the Senators he had been troubled by the way Bolton had treated subordinates who did not agree with him. "Powell still carries a lot of weight with some of these guys," said an aide to a top Senate Republican who supports Bolton's nomination. And with the vote on Bolton's nomination pushed off until May 12, committee Democrats have plenty of time to investigate the allegations against him--and field new ones. "If this keeps up," says the G.O.P. official, Bolton "won't survive."