Byline: Stephen Dinan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
President Bush yesterday accepted John R. Bolton's resignation as U.N. ambassador, giving in to the objections of Senate Democrats and one Republican a month after the White House pledged to push to confirm him.
Mr. Bolton had been serving as a temporary "recess appointment" since August 2005, but his busy term was not enough to persuade Senate critics to give him full approval for the top U.S. job at the United Nations.
"I'm not happy about it. I think he deserved to be confirmed," Mr. Bush said at the White House yesterday after accepting Mr. Bolton's resignation in person in the Oval Office.
Republican leaders had wanted to force another vote on Mr. Bolton's nomination before the end of the year, when Democrats assume control of Congress. But in Mr. Bolton's Dec. 1 resignation letter, he said the fight was over and he would end his service in the Bush administration when his temporary post expires, when Congress adjourns this year.
The White House said Mr. Bolton's letter also ended the possibility of keeping him on the job, which they could have done by creating another similar position and giving him a recess appointment to it.
His departure will leave Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with three major vacancies to fill. Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick, the department's second-in-command, left for Wall Street in July, and Philip Zelikow, the department counselor and a top confidant of the secretary, announced last month he plans to return to his teaching job at the University of Virginia in January.
The Bloomberg News service reported yesterday that U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad may soon be leaving Baghdad and is a leading candidate to fill one of the top vacancies.
White House press secretary Tony Snow said Mr. Bolton's departure showed the confirmation process was broken, and he blamed partisan obstruction.
But lawmakers on Capitol Hill said Mr. Bolton couldn't have even gotten out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee under Republican control because one Republican committee member, Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, opposed …