John Bolton delivered the Bush administration’s bellicose, arrogant war-first policy to the UN, and U.S. voters took him out.

For a year Democrats and even some Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee blocked confirmation of Bush’s controversial appointment to the UN. Bolton was so disliked Bush had to appoint him during a Senate recess.

In the wake of the voters’ Nov. 7 uprising, Bolton withdrew his name from the confirmation process, even though the president made his confirmation a priority for the lame duck Congress. That may reflect some reality-based thinking by Bolton, as opposed to Bush who still seems to be clueless. Bush finds himself alone in his assessment that Bolton was the man for the job: “I think he deserved to be confirmed. The reason I think he deserved to be confirmed is that I think he did a fabulous job for the country,” Bush said.

That depends on your definition of fabulous, Mr. President. In November, Americans made a strong statement against your foreign policies. Bolton was part of the problem, and you need to come to grips with that.

Even though it’s goodbye to bad rubbish, there is another challenge. Former CIA Director Robert Gates is now confirmed as the new defense secretary.

With the voters’ mandate to get out of Iraq and take responsibility for a country the U.S. government destroyed, why fast track a possible Rumsfeld-lite?

Gates may be the clean-up guy but his record does not auger well. A player in the Iran-Contra scandal and a bagman for multi-national corporations profiting mightily from no-bid contracts, Gates is carrying heavy baggage. Recycling murderers and crooks from two decades ago does not reflect the voters’ decision, no matter how he comes packaged.