Is This the World's Longest Job Interview?

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And then there were... six? After the New York Times Wednesday named Trent Lott and Mitch McConnell as the two mystery senators who put secret "holds" on Richard Holbrooke's nomination as United Nations ambassador, at least one and perhaps as many as three more senators are putting their weight on the brakes. George Voinovich of Ohio has joined Lott, McConnell and Charles Grassley — the first senator to object — in seeking to hold up Holbrooke's confirmation until their demands are met. While Voinovich's reasons are not yet clear, for McConnell and Lott, the motive was campaign-finance reform — or, rather, their opposition to it. The two Republicans want to get an Ohio law professor — who thinks that bans on "soft money" are a violation of free speech — appointed to fill a GOP vacancy on the board of the Federal Election Commission. Bill Clinton doesn’t want that, and so the U.S.’ star Balkan negotiator is, once again, stymied in his yearlong attempt to take his seat at the U.N. (His nomination was put on hold during an eight-month federal ethics investigation that cleared him of wrongdoing.) A full Senate vote could now be weeks away.

Senate watchers will know that Kentucky GOPer McConnell has long been campaign-finance reform’s brick wall in the upper chamber, which has been unable to come up with the 60 votes to overcome his filibuster; party leader Lott is always there to back up his deputy on the issue. The two used to brag openly that the campaign-finance issue has never won or lost an election — and that raising more money, indeed, is the only surefire winner. But now that John McCain has made the issue the centerpiece of his presidential campaign, the Lott-led stalwarts may be getting a little more subtle; however, they're still fighting reform every step of the way — even if it means accusing Mr. Integrity of hypocrisy. "I just think when you’re out there raising money right and left," Lott groused recently about McCain’s new platform, "and then you’re talking about how to reform the system, it rings a little hollow." Just imagine how it all sounds to Richard Holbrooke.