Daily Show Scores Again, With Unique Take On Bolton Appointment
Word had spread several days ago that President Bush planned to sidestep Congress and make a recess appointment to install John Bolton as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
The problem is not that recess appointments are so rare, as some have charged. In fact, President Clinton made 140 recess appointments over his eight years. President Reagan made 243. Including Bolton, Bush has made 106.
But recess appointments traditionally have been made in emergency situations -- such as when President Clinton appointed Mickey Kantor in April 1996 to replace Ron Brown as commerce secretary, after Brown died in a plane crash.
Bush appointed Bolton on Aug. 1 because he knew he didn't have the votes to gain Senate approval. As the Boston Globe wrote in an Aug. 2 editorial: "Only sheer stubbornness kept President Bush from dropping Bolton and choosing a stronger nominee after it became clear how unfit many senators found him. Tellingly, two of the harshest judgments about Bolton were made by Republicans. In May, Senator George Voinovich of Ohio called Bolton ''the poster child for what someone in the diplomatic corps should not be.' Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska reacted to President Bush's nomination of Bolton by saying: 'We need alliances. We need friends. To go up there and kick the UN around doesn't get the job done.'"
Which brings us to the Aug. 2 episode of Comedy Central's The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, which offered a similar insight, but in a caustically funny way.
Here is an unofficial transcript of the exchange between host Stewart and "Senior World-Government Correspondent" Rob Corddry:
STEWART: Obviously, Rob ... obviously, Rob, Ambassador Bolton is a very controversial pick. How are things going for the new ambassador?
CORDDRY: I think very well, Jon.
STEWART: Now ... I'm sorry, are they, if I hear in the background, are they still booing him?
CORDDRY: Oh yeah. Yeah, that's just par for the course. Standard-issue hazing for U.N.
STEWART: I'm sorry, what was that, Rob?
CORDDRY: Uh, Bolton just smashed a plate of glass over the Latvian delegation. Something, something about a parking space, I think.
STEWART: Alright, Rob. Considering the reception that Bolton is getting there, the hostility there, is the president concerned that he is perhaps sending the wrong message, by doing this to the world community?
CORDDRY: Indeed, Jon, that's exactly the kind of issue that would concern him, along with his deteriorating relationship with his own Congress, that is, if he gave a f--k, which Jon ... which he doesn't. Jon?
STEWART: I'm sorry, did you just say ...
CORDDRY: Yeah, yeah, give a ... yeah, I'm sorry, that uh, that was probably a little harsh. I didn't have to put it like that. What I meant to say was the president doesn't give two s---s.
STEWART: Rob, I find it very hard to believe that the president of the United States doesn't care what his critics have to say.
CORDDRY: Really? Uh, well, consider this: Iraq is falling apart, North Korea is about to get the bomb, and he's visiting his Crawford ranch for the 50th time. And in his mind, not only shouldn't he be criticized for that, he can't believe how much time he's had to spend at the White House. You see, the president has a logic system that works for him. Here's an example: You know Rafael Palmeiro?
STEWART: Yes, uh, the baseball player who was suspended for taking steroids, after he testified in Congress that he had never taken steroids.
CORDDRY: Right. Now you or I might look at Palmeiro's positive drug test and say, "Wow, Rafael Palmeiro is a steroid user." The president looks at that and says to reporters yesterday, "Palmeiro's the kind of person that's going to stand up and say he didn't use steroids, and I believe him." Or, to paraphrase (putting hands over ears): "LALALALALA."
The Daily Show takes a broad swipe at the president -- an oversimplification written as much to get a good laugh as to score political points.
But, as JABBS has been writing along the way, this is an administration that doesn't let the facts get in the way of a good argument. The "alternate universe of facts" has led Bush and his conservative faithful to come up with factually challenged views on a broad number of issues, from the difference between Iraqi insurgents and Al Qaeda terrorists, to Terri Schiavo's vegetative state. This isn't just spin, it's stubbornly refusing to accept well-documented facts.
And that's not funny.
Even after members of his own party made it clear that they felt Bolton was woefully unqualified to be UN Ambassador, after a parade of former employees criticized Bolton's lack of diplomacy, after the Senate asked for, but did not receive, answers to its questions regarding Bolton's "exaggerated" opinions on things such as Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and Syria's access to WMD, Bush pushed forward. Even after it became clear that the votes weren't there -- in a Republican-controlled Senate -- to approve his nomination, Bush stubbornly stayed the course.
As with the farcical, but truthful Palmeiro anecdote, Bush was ignoring the facts before him, and creating the "alternate universe," in which liberals were stopping him from appointing the best candidate available to reform a "corrupt" UN. The conservative "media" echoed this point to the faithful, propelling the disconnect between fact and conservative myth.