Robert Novak

 AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby, assured Republicans that Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Dodd's Connecticut colleague, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein would back Bolton. But Feinstein was lobbied ferociously by her California colleague Sen. Barbara Boxer. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pleaded with Feinstein over the telephone, but the senator said she was under too much pressure to vote against Bolton.

 Could the "nuclear option" (forcing consideration of judicial nominees by a majority vote) be used to confirm Bolton? It is not "off the table," as Reid claims. Frist intends to use it if Democrats filibuster additional judicial nominees. Not all seven Republicans in on the compromise would oppose him in that case.

 As a non-judicial nominee named to much less than a lifetime job, Bolton ought to be much less of an issue for Democrats. The U.N. post might not seem worthy of a convulsive battle in the minds of Democrats -- particularly when he could serve out the next two years as a recess appointment. Backed by Negroponte, the White House is adamant against giving additional information to Biden and Dodd for a fishing expedition. That means that somehow two Democratic senators will have to be found to vote for cloture without satisfying Dodd's demands for documents. That is not an automatic.

 The overriding point is that warmth generated by last week's deal did not extend to giving John Bolton an immediate up-or-down vote without going into Dodd's dubious complaints. For all of Sen. Robert Byrd's treacle about the Republic being saved, Thursday night's behavior was in the tradition of the reactionary body that blocked civil rights legislation for a century. Even if Bolton is confirmed, nobody knows now the fate of George W. Bush's other judicial nominees and his future selections for the Supreme Court.

Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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