Joel Mowbray

Call it the tale of two confirmation hearings.

Two of the four men most recently nominated to be the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations found their candidacies challenged, though they could not have faced more different receptions.  Both men were supremely qualified, but the similarities end there.

The divergent paths for each reveal Democrats? rabid partisanship and belies their claims that they oppose John Bolton on the grounds that character matters.

Six years ago, Foreign Service veteran Richard Holbrooke was awaiting Senate confirmation.  As former a ambassador to Germany, head of East Asian and Pacific Affairs under President Carter, and European and Canadian Affairs under President Clinton, his resume was indeed impressive.

All that stood in his way was an investigation into possible felonies committed after he joined the private sector.

Given that he had the unyielding support of both Clinton?s political hands and the powerful Foreign Service bureaucracy, Holbrooke knew he had little about which to worry.  Despite a thorough, months-long investigation which turned up substantial evidence of impropriety, according to someone intimately familiar with its proceedings, Holbrooke was let off with a slap on the wrist: a plea bargain to one civil count and a $5,000 fine.

Upon leaving public service, Holbrooke became an instant millionaire executive with Credit Suisse First Boston.  According to an official with intimate knowledge of the investigation, private citizen Holbrooke would call people he knew on staffs of various embassies?people who still likely saw him as their boss?to set up meetings with foreign officials, and he allegedly used former employees to provide him with office space and drivers.

Holbrooke?s defense was shaky, at best.  He claimed that because he was also the special envoy to Bosnia, all his trips and various uses of government property were solely to benefit the U.S. government.  Most of the travel, however, was underwritten by CSFB, not the U.S. taxpayer. 

And according to the official familiar with the investigation, the distinction was lost to many of Holbrooke?s former subordinates, who repeatedly leapt into action to help their former superior.

Although then-Chairman Jesse Helms (R-NC) reportedly believed that Holbrooke had violated the law on multiple occasions, he afforded the millionaire diplomat a full hearing.  The session was barely contentious, and it became a near-love fest after Holbrooke formally apologized for his ?carelessness? and ?bookkeeping? errors. 

Joel Mowbray

Joel Mowbray, who got his start with, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.

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