Just before dashing off to the ranch for five weeks, the Prez did what everyone expected and gave John Bolton a ‘recess appointment’ as ambassador to the UN. It’s an unusual but not unheard-of use of the presidential prerogative. Unlike kindergarten, it doesn’t mean he has to clean the erasers during recess, but you’re close.
I’ve written a bit about what I think of Bolton for this job in general and recess appointments in particular, but Bolton’s presence in the UN made me wonder about the positive or negative influence on another UN candidacy.
Bill Clinton has made it known that he would like the Secretary-General job that Kofi Anan is set to vacate in sixteen months. With Bolton sitting smugly in a seat he couldn’t win by approval, two scenarios are possible; 1) that the Bushies will do everything in their power through Bolton to dissuade such an outrageous outcome and, 2) that the very fact of Bolton’s mugging the job will work perversely in favor of Clinton with the 191 member-nations.
Considering scenario-the-first, it seems no sitting president much approves of a past-president going out to pursue other employment opportunities. They’re supposed to play a bad game of golf with the rich and famous, keep their mouths shut and show up at periodic ‘past-presidential’ gatherings such as major funerals and opening of yet another tiresome presidential library. Jimmy Carter pounding nails and jetting off to this or that third-world election commission is strictly gauche. Gerald Ford played it perfectly, but of course Ford was an accidental president whose retirement was met with deafening silence. But we can assume the Bush White House wouldn’t ring in Clinton as the new Sec-Gen with any real enthusiasm and they will still be in power at string-pulling and hair-tearing time.
Considering scenario-the-second, I like the odds. But then I am an unabashed Clinton admirer and the reasons for that are scattered, but applicable to heading the UN;
- He balanced our budget, why not theirs?
- He paid down our debt, why not theirs?
- He’s an unabashed intellectual, able to keep several concepts in play simultaneously and doesn’t frown with concentration when asked who is the president of Azerbaijan. Ilham Aliyev, he’ll answer and not a blink. Probably knows Ilham’s daughter’s name as well and has a great story from Davos last year.
- The man’s fascinated by international issues, intrigued by the give and take of politics and a believer in the possibility of mankind’s inherent greatness.
- It’s almost a secret in the US that Clinton is hugely admired throughout the world.
So, if Jimmy Carter has been a continual irritant to Republicans since leaving office, Bill Clinton at the United Nations would be a real stick-in-the-eye.
But of course that’s only one of the many reasons it’s a great idea.