Boy, this confirmation battle over John Bolton, the president's plain-spoken nominee for U.N. ambassador, is really heating up. Sen. Barbara Boxer, the Democratic Party's comely obstructionist, has charged that Bolton needs ''anger management lessons.''
I don't know about you, but nothing makes me want to hurl a chair through the window and punch someone's lights out like being told I need anger management lessons. So I was interested to hear about the kind of violent Boltonian eruptions that had led Boxer to her diagnosis. Well, here it comes. (If you've got young children present, you might want to take them out of the room.) From the shockingly brutal testimony of Thomas Fingar, assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Intelligence Research:
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Q: Did he raise his voice to you? Did he point his finger in your face?
Fingar: I don't remember if he pointed. John speaks in such a low voice normally. Was it louder than normal? Probably. I wouldn't characterize it as screaming at me or anything like that. It was more, hands on hips, the body language as I recall it, I knew he was mad.
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Well, I haven't been so horrified since . . . well, since David Gest split from Liza Minnelli and launched a multimillion dollar suit for damages because she'd beaten him up. As ''The Daily Show's'' Jon Stewart observed, ''There is no conceivable amount of money worth telling the world that you were beaten up by Liza Minnelli.'' Likewise, whatever one's feelings about the U.N. and Kofi Annan and multilateralism, there's nothing that could get most self-respecting men to appear in front of a Senate committee and complain that Bolton put his hands on his hips.
That complaint is shameful coming from a public servant in a high-profile job who should be able to take a little pressure. This country does not need a cavalcade of wimps manning the political and policy frontlines.
More from Steyn on why the Democrats opposing Bolton are truly preposterous:
If the Senate poseurs and the media wanted to mount a trenchant critique of Bolton's geopolitical philosophy, that would be reasonable enough. But there's not even a pretense of any of that. Instead, his opponents have seized on one episode -- an intelligence analyst in a critical position with whom Bolton and others were dissatisfied -- and used it to advance the bizarre proposition that every junior official should be beyond reproach, and certainly beyond such aggressive ''body language'' as putting one's hands on hips. Or as Peter Beinart, editor of the New Republic, complained to the BBC the other night: Bolton was ''disloyal to his subordinates.''
It's been obvious for three years now that the torpid federal bureaucracies -- the agencies that so comprehensively failed America on 9/11 -- are resistant to meaningful reform, but Beinart, in demanding that the executive branch swear fealty to the most incompetent underling, distills the ''reform'' charade to its essence: We'll talk reform, we'll pass reform bills, we'll merge and de-merge and re-merge every so often, we'll change three-letter acronyms (INS) to four-letter acronyms (BCIS) just to show how serious we are, and a year or four down the line we may well get real tough and require five-letter acronyms.
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And, if an underperforming bureaucrat winds up getting Atlanta or Dallas nuked, tough. Better that happen than that out-of-control nutcakes rampage around with hands on hips. After all, as National Review's John Derbyshire put it three years ago, deftly summing up the philosophy of this new war: Better dead than rude.
As for the job Bolton's up for, what would make Barbara Boxer and Joe Biden put their hands on hips? Child sex rings run from U.N. peacekeeping operations? Sudan sitting on the Human Rights Commission while it licenses mass murder in Darfur? Kofi Annan's son doing a $30,000-a-year job but somehow having a spare quarter-million dollars to invest in a Swiss soccer club? There are tides in the affairs of men when someone has to put his hands on his hips and toss his curls. And, if the present depraved state of the U.N. isn't one of them, nothing is.