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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 May 2005, 20:40 GMT 21:40 UK
Bush bruised by Bolton controversy

By Justin Webb
BBC News, Washington

Cast your mind back to 4 November last year. Flushed with victory, endorsed by more than 50% of American voters, Bush was back.

John Bolton testifies at his Senate Foreign Relations committee confirmation hearing
Accusations that Bolton is a serial bully are being investigated

And, boy were we going to know it.

"I have earned political capital, and I intend to spend it," said the relaxed and confident president.

Now fast forward to just a few days ago and note the change of tone as the president publicly begged to be allowed to send his nominee to the United Nations.

John is a good man, he said almost plaintively.

Democrat delight

It's been a month since the Bolton hearings began - a very bruising month for John Bolton himself - but more importantly for the White House.

JOHN BOLTON
Yale Law School graduate
As assistant secretary of state under George Bush senior, helped organise anti-Saddam alliance
Made under-secretary of state for arms control and international security in May 2001
In July 2003, condemned North Korean leader Kim Jong-il for living like royalty while people lived in "hellish nightmare"

The long suffering chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, Senator Richard Lugar sounded weary but relieved to have reached the end of the road.

But all eyes were on the Republican waverers. Would they continue to waver or fall back into line?

Senator George Voinovich, of Ohio, opted for independence.

He would vote to allow the nomination to go to the senate but without recommendation - and when it came to a full Senate vote he would side with the Democrats.

The Democrats were delighted. Senator Chris Dodd, of Connecticut, was quite overcome.

A senatorial moment he called it, which he would report tonight in his journal.

Rough trade

So what happens next?

Well the Democrats might filibuster the nomination on the floor - just keep talking until the White House gives up.

They would need to have the tacit support of some Republicans to bring it off, but it is a real possibility.

More likely, a vote will take place and the Bolton nomination will be approved by just a handful of votes.

The White House will have won the day but at some considerable cost.

EJ Dionne - a columnist at the Washington Post - diagnoses an early case of second term blues for Mr Bush as members of his party begin to look to the future and ask, President who?

Politics is a rough trade - both sides of the Atlantic.



SEE ALSO
Bush suffers blow on UN choice
12 May 05 |  Americas
Bush presses Senate on UN nominee
21 Apr 05 |  Americas
Bolton vote delay a blow to Bush
20 Apr 05 |  Americas
Will John Bolton make a good ambassador?
20 Apr 05 |  Have Your Say
New hitch for Bush's UN nominee
13 Apr 05 |  Americas
Official blasts Bush UN nominee
13 Apr 05 |  Americas
Ex-US diplomats round on Bolton
29 Mar 05 |  Americas

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