Helms, the only panel member with any criticism of the nominee, even appeared to bond with Holbrooke after the diplomat spoke of how his father used to take him to the UN building as a child.
Not only was Holbrooke given the kid gloves? treatment, but his testimony was preceded by that of a bipartisan pair of distinguished Senators. Both the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) and John Warner (R-VA) lavished praise on Holbrooke, and there was nary a witness with any cross words about the nominee.
Contrast Holbrooke?s treatment as a Democrat sitting before a GOP-controlled committee to John Bolton?s as a Republican before an ostensibly friendly panel this April.
Bolton?s hearings were marked by confrontation from Democrats?and apathy from Republicans. The sole witness besides the nominee was a former head of intelligence at the State Department with whom Bolton had had exactly one three-minute encounter years ago.
Almost the entirety of Carl ?conservative to the core, but not too conservative to cut checks to Charlie Rangell and John Kerry? Ford?s testimony was based on hearsay, or as non-lawyers call it, gossip. Almost nothing he said would have been admissible in a court of law precisely because hearsay in unreliable, yet Democrats jumped for joy at rumors that Bolton was a ?bully? and a ?kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy.? To them, this was all the justification necessary to block Bolton?s nomination.
If everything alleged by Ford?or the four other Bolton bashers interviewed by the committee?is true, then Bush?s nominee is, well, mean. But if everything investigated involving Holbrooke?s activities during his CSFB tenure had proved true, then the Democrat would have been guilty of serious ethical violations, if not criminal ones.
Yet current Chairman Richard Lugar (R-IN) seemed far more enthusiastic about Clinton?s choice than Bush?s. His support of Bolton is palpably tepid, and his staff lined up not a single character witness for the embattled nominee, let alone any kind of reinforcement on the order of two senior Senators offering high praise.
While Holbrooke may not have been guilty of any crime?he pleaded only to a single civil count?his apparent ethical lapses deserved far more consideration from the committee than they received. Especially in light of the stir over Bolton?s alleged behavior.
The official involved with the Holbrooke investigation certainly feels that way. Even if the Senate panel gave short shrift to Holbrooke?s alleged misdeeds, the official can?t. ?There are many nights I find myself walking and thinking about how he got off,? he said.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, 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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