WASHINGTON, D.C. -- When a United States senator publicly declaims, as Ohio's Sen. George V. Voinovich did this week, that he is suffering pangs of conscience, my question to him is, have you considered that it might be acid reflux? Consult your physician, Sen. Voinovich. If your problem really is a problem of conscience, consult your psychiatrist. Conscience among the senator's colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee appears these days to be an abnormality.
The committee is holding confirmation hearings over the president's nominee to head our mission to the United Nations, John R. Bolton. Bolton has already passed through no less than three prior Senate confirmation hearings in his distinguished life as a public servant and survived. Now, however, the Democrats have come to the conclusion that over the years Bolton has been given to dreadful temper tantrums. At least that is their professed reason for now rejecting his nomination. Frankly, it comes as a surprise to me. I have known him off and on for years, and he always seemed rather mild mannered. Further, one would have thought this shocking condition would have been discovered in earlier hearings.
Now the Democrats have turned up a couple of Bolton's acquaintances who insist anger is his problem. After Sen. Barbara Boxer heard from one complainant, she blurted out at Bolton's hearing that he is in need of "anger management lessons." Public remarks such as that sound awfully intemperate to me. Perhaps Boxer is herself in need of "anger management lessons."
This week Voinovich said, "my conscience got me." Apparently, he had just heard of charges of rudeness lodged against Bolton in an "open letter" from one Melody Townsel, a Bush opponent living in Texas. The rudeness allegedly took place in Moscow 11 years ago. There is no public record of the rudeness aside from Townsel's letter read at Bolton's hearing. Voinovich, a Republican, has joined the Democrats on the committee in delaying Bolton's confirmation until they can review these mounting questions regarding what the New York Times terms Bolton's "temperament and credibility."