Weld hearing

September 12, 1997

SEN. RICHARD G. LUGAR of Indiana was right to muster bipartisan support on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to force its chairman, Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina, to hold hearings on the fitness of William F. Weld to be Ambassador to Mexico. Only that way can the committee and then the full Senate decide that issue.

President Clinton's probable motive for nominating the popular moderate Republican governor of Massachusetts has disappeared. It was to get him out of young Rep. Joseph Kennedy II's way. Mr. Kennedy is no longer running for governor next year, but Mr. Weld is no longer governor anyway, having resigned to focus on this confirmation.

Senator Helms -- who is opaque about his own motive for blocking Mr. Weld -- grudgingly scheduled a "special meeting" today for which he alone will set the agenda. Mr. Weld's name, he says, will certainly not be on it. He has muttered some objections to Mr. Weld's supposed softness on this or that, some of it inaccurate or irrelevant, but he has not come clean about it.

This fight is not, as advertised, for the soul of the Republican Party. It is about whether the Senate works as an institution. The Constitution says President Clinton needs its advice and consent on appointments of ambassadors. Not just Senator Helms' advice and consent, but the whole body's. Who is Senator Helms to deny his colleagues their duty?

Pub Date: 9/12/97

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