All Over But the Props … er Congressional Record

The final vote count on the Christopher Hill nomination was 73 for YEAs and 23 for NAYs, with three senators not voting. Senators Brownback, McCain, Graham, Kyl were among those who voted Nays. 17 other GOP senators joined 56 Democrats to confirm Ambassador Hill. Senators Kennedy, Roberts and Rockefeller, did not vote.

Just for the record, the debate on Ambassador Hill’s nomination in the Senate yesterday ate 29 pages of the Congressional Record. Imagine how many more pages would have been added if the senators went on for 30 more hours of debate as was originally agreed.

The generals and former ambassadors were invoked repeatedly by the senators. Generals Petreus and Odierno and the former ambassadors to Iraq where cited here by Senator Kerry. Senator Whitehouse, a former FS brat (father and grandfather were FS officers) also did the same here.

Another General’s name was also invoked, perhaps not surprisingly by those who opposed the nomination. Senator Brownback asked the Senate floor: “Why didn’t you nominate somebody such as Retired General Zinni, or why did you pick him and then pull him back?” Senator McCain who was not happy with all the ambassadors sent to Iraq so far, also managed to bring up General Zinni’s name saying: “We paid an enormous price for the gains we see in that country today. And I must say, in all candor, we have seen another Ambassador to Iraq who went there without experience, and things did not turn out so well. There are qualified individuals who are serving this Nation in and out of the Foreign Service. It well known that Marine General Zinni was offered the job, at least by some members of the administration, and then somehow that offer disappeared.”

Senator Kyl in his “anyone but Chris Hill” argument says: “While I don’t expect a carbon copy of Ambassador Crocker, I do assert again that surely the State Department has to have at least one distinguished diplomat with relevant experience in the Middle East. If it doesn’t–if its bench for Iraq is one diplomat deep–we need to find out what is going on over at the State Department.”

It is clear that the majority were able to round up more support for this nomination than the minority party; there certainly were more Senators who took to the floor in support of this nomination than those who opposed it. But Senator Kerry was the most steadfast supporter and returned every ball served by the senator from Kansas. At one point Senator Kerry called out Senator Brownback on one of his props, er exhibits of the starving children of North Korea.

screencapture from March 2009 video showing the same exhibit


Senator Kerry:

“But to show a picture of starving North Korean children in the debate on Ambassador Hill’s qualifications and to imply somehow that he is indifferent to their plight does a good public servant an enormous disservice–particularly one whose record is what I have described, who time and again has fought for the implementation of the Human Rights Act and who has taken personal risks on occasion to enforce human rights. The date of the photograph that was there was not in fact declared, but I believe it was during the great Republic of North Korea’s famine in 1996 and 1997. If that is true, that is 10 years before Ambassador Chris Hill began his duties as the lead envoy in the six-party talks. So, again, to create some sense of linkage or nexus here is inappropriate.”

And Senator Dodd on the conduct of diplomacy:

“Its not just about Chris Hill but also about how we conduct diplomacy and about a professional, an individual who has served in administrations, regardless of politics or party, but as a professional. It is extremely important, in my view, that we have a cadre of professional people in our diplomatic corps who can serve both Democratic and Republican administrations with dignity, with professionalism, with brilliance in this case, and that we recognize them. That will necessitate from time to time that there will be a change in policies, but having individuals who are able to accommodate those changes and serve the interests of our country in a highly professional capacity is something to be celebrated, in my view, and something we need more of, not less. My support for Chris Hill’s nomination is not to suggest that I necessarily agreed with every decision he made when he served at the discretion of Condoleezza Rice and President Bush but because he did so professionally and with great capacity. That willingness is something I believe we need to celebrate, as I said a moment ago, more often.”

The senate rigodon is over, but it ain’t over. There’s a lesson here for career diplomats but that’s for another post.

EXECUTIVE SESSION — (Senate – April 21, 2009)

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Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I know we are here to discuss the nomination of…
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Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I rise today to join the distinguished …
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Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I am very grateful to the Senator from Rhode Island…
Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I take this time to urge my colleagues to confirm…
Mr. KAUFMAN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the…
Mr. KAUFMAN. Madam President, I rise today in support of the nomination of…
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Mr. BROWNBACK. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the…
Mr. BROWNBACK. Madam President, today is a sad day in the history of the world….
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Mr. DODD. Madam President, I rise to speak on behalf of Ambassador Hill. First…
EARTH DAY
Mr. ALEXANDER. Madam President, tomorrow is Earth Day, and it is a good day to…
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Mr. CASEY. Madam President, I thank the Chair.
Mr. CASEY. I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.
Mr. DURBIN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent the order for the quorum…
Mr. DURBIN. Madam President, in late February, President Obama made an…
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Mr. DURBIN. Madam President, I yield the floor.
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CONFIRMATION — (Senate – April 21, 2009)

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