Gingrich disregarded facts in attacking Democrats over criticism of Wolfowitz, Bolton nominations

››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

Fox News contributor and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich disregarded the facts when he attacked Democrats for criticizing President Bush's nomination of deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz as president of the World Bank and Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

On the March 17 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Gingrich cited two examples of Democrats becoming "unhinged": 1) that Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) is "to the left of the French" because he "attack[ed] the president over Paul Wolfowitz when even the French today were saying nice things about Wolfowitz," and 2) that "liberal Democrat[s]" are "unnerve[d]" by the Bolton nomination because he is "actually dedicated to protecting American interests." In fact, news reports suggest that the French are largely displeased with the Wolfowitz nomination, and some congressional Republicans have joined Democrats in expressing concern over Bolton's nomination.

Reuters reported on March 17 that while the Wolfowitz nomination "has dismayed many European leaders," criticism has been muted because open opposition "would risk derailing efforts to improve transatlantic relations." Nonetheless, Reuters noted that though he is "resigned to accepting Wolfowitz," French President Jacques Chirac's spokesman Jerome Bonnafont "said the French leader 'took note' of the choice -- a far from enthusiastic reaction that pointed to the president's disappointment."

In addition to referencing Chirac's reaction to the nomination, Britain's The Independent reported on March 18 that "the French government made a point of saying that his [Wolfowitz's] assumption of the presidency is not a foregone conclusion. The French Foreign Minister, Michel Barnier, pointedly described the nomination as a 'proposal.' " Similarly, on March 16 Bloomberg reported Barnier's contention that France will "look equally at other candidates." Reuters noted that French commentator Nicole Bacharan, who is not bound by diplomatic concerns, was less reserved in her appraisal of the nomination: "Bolton followed by Wolfowitz sounds like a declaration of war -- and if not that, a declaration of contempt [for Europe]."

According to news reports, three Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have expressed less-than-full support for Bolton, and sources in both parties have speculated that Bolton was not Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's choice for the position. Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) issued a statement PDF file about Bolton on March 7, saying he was "saddened that the United States will no longer have the respected, moderate voice of John Danforth representing us at the United Nations." The New York Times reported on March 10 that Chafee would "consider voting no" on the Bolton nomination, according to Senate aides.

The Times also reported that "A number of Republican and Democratic aides speculated that the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had been forced to accept the appointment of Mr. Bolton because of the support he had from Vice President Dick Cheney," and that Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, "would probably vote for Mr. Bolton, [but] he is not the nominee's biggest supporter." Though Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) has confirmed that he will support Bolton's nomination, he previously said he had "concerns" about it, as The Toledo Blade reported on March 13.

From the March 17 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:

GINGRICH: I think they [the Democrats] have become unhinged, and I think they get so rattled watching somebody like, for example, John Bolton, who's actually dedicated to protecting American interests, get sent to the U.N. That is so unnerving if you're a liberal Democrat.

Then you had Kerry, by the way, attacking the president over Paul Wolfowitz when even the French today were saying nice things about Wolfowitz. Now, if you are to the left of the French, I think "unhinged" may be the new word for the new Democratic Party.

Posted In
Government, Nominations & Appointments
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