Apparently, what happened with the Bolton nomination in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today was astounding even to those who spend their lives watching the goings-on of our government. (Seriously, when I got home from work tonight, Shannon was all atwitter about it! It’s what I love most about her — she’s as much of a foreign policy dork as I am a technology geek.) What happened, as I understand it, is as follows (summarized as much to make sure I understand it as to help others do so):

  • Despite some hope that two more moderate Republican Senators would see the idiocy in Bolton becoming the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, there seemed to be a firm Republican lock on getting the nomination voted onto the floor of the Senate for confirmation.
  • Democrats, concerned that there is still pretty important evidence that hasn’t yet been produced to the committee, considered objecting on the Senate floor to the Foreign Relations Committee continuing to meet while the Senate itself was in session, a move which would have forced the Committee to defer its vote on the nomination.
  • Aiming to prevent this, Bill Frist (still likely to be the only Majority Leader in the history of the Senate who illegally acquired cats from the pound and killed them to become a better surgeon) moved to shut down the United States Senate until the Committee vote could occur, and proposed that the shut down occur without a vote.
  • Harry Reid (Democratic Senator from Nevada) refused to allow that, demanding that any motion to suspend business be voted on by roll call.
  • An agreement was reached between both parties wherein the Republicans would withdraw the motion to cease Senate operations and the Democrats would agree not to object to the Foreign Relations Committee meeting.
  • Just when it looked like all was lost, George Voinovich — a Republican member of the Committee — declared that he had heard enough to be uncomfortable voting for Bolton, something which caused an out-and-out silence in the meeting.
  • With that surprise, the Republicans recognized that there was no way they were going to push Bolton’s nomination out to the floor of the Senate, and agreed to a delay to continue investigating his fitness for the position.

According to Fred Kaplan over at Slate, there’s nothing but bad that will come of this for Bolton. At a minimum, every day that goes by brings more damaging information about the man’s past; beyond that, it now appears that Bolton perjured himself in front of the Senate, and that there are members of the Cabinet who don’t really want to see his nomination succeed. We’ll see where this goes! (There are others far more qualified than me following this; Laura Rozen, Steve Clemons, Kevin Drum, and Eric Umansky are doing fine jobs of it.)