John Bolton Wants To Have His Cake And Eat It

By Kennedy Emetulu June 22, 2020

John Bolton Wants To Have His Cake And Eat It

I fully support the idea of a public officer who just left office writing about his experience serving in an administration, as far as classified information is not compromised. Obviously, it’s a grey area open to be manipulated by any party or both parties, but I do think in this case Bolton fulfilled his obligations through the prepublication review with the White House. They had no reason to stall its publication, except that they don’t want it to come out before the election. So, Bolton is right to undermine their bad faith. At any rate, Trump’s attempt to stop the book’s publication or release is a case of trying to bolt the barn door after the horses have bolted. No matter what legal liabilities Bolton might face tomorrow, today the book is validly out and is an issue. That’s all that matters.

Now, I have not read the book, but I have read some reviews and reports and the interview Bolton granted Martha Raddatz of ABC News. I have posted a link to a transcript of that interview here below for those of us interested in this to read because it is the main basis of my comment here. To be sure, my view here is not a review of the book, it is a general view of Bolton’s attitude, which is all clear from this extensive interview he has granted.

Bolton is a lifelong Republican who joined the Trump administration because he thought he had an opportunity to ideologically define and shape the administration’s foreign policy via his national security portfolio. Bolton has never hidden the fact that he’s a hawk and Trump obviously brought him in because he needed his Republican cred to appear tough. But that is where it all ended. They both could not get the best of each other synergistically to create a consistent policy platform for the administration and, to make matters worse, Bolton found he was dealing with a criminal buffoon whose only interest is what serves him best, rather than what is good for America or, at least, the traditional ideological American right as represented by the Republican Party before Trump’s hostile takeover. Bolton thought he could influence things because Trump had courted him before and during the 2016 election and had kept their talking relationship going after he took over at the White House. However, once Bolton joined the administration, he realized things were not as he thought, especially with the clueless and narcissistic president. Trump tried to recruit Bolton into his assembly line of obsequious toadies jumping in front of the klieg light all the time to talk how the self-proclaimed Stable Genius is the best thing to happen to America since apple pie, but Bolton is too patrician to engage in such menial service. And then, the dramas, the dysfunction, the crass incompetence and stone-cold ignorance.

So, Bolton knew this chap shouldn’t be president, but rather than allow his patriotic mind take over from there, he locked himself in a negative partisan box and began to look at how to balance Trump’s many failings with what he thinks are Democratic failings. Where he sees huge failings on the Republican side, he ignores them and where he finds nothing to equate these on the Democratic side, he slyly and sentimentally manufactures them and tries to argue his view with clear false equivalencies. For instance, accusing the Democrats of engaging in “impeachment malpractice” just because they took the narrow path with only the Ukraine question is quite laughable, especially when he claims the Democrats “pushed the Republicans in the House into unanimous opposition to their view” and that “they essentially did the same thing to Republicans in the Senate.” It is breathtaking hypocrisy to say this was “a partisan claim” and “not a Constitutional process” because that is akin to saying water is not liquid just because you want it served to you as ice. Of course, partisanship is the natural canvass of any impeachment process, but every Congressman and Congresswoman then looks at the bigger picture going forward. You do not let partisanship get in the way of the facts. When the conduct of a president threatens the republic, you don’t go pointing accusing fingers at partisan technicalities. The fact that Bolton could not see the contradiction in claiming that he could not testify or that his testimony would not have mattered because minds were already made up on one hand and the expectation that the Democrats could have done something differently to get Republicans to join them on the other hand is telling.

In order to avoid the questioning of his motive for not talking when he should have talked as a patriot, Bolton manufactures a false utilitarian and moral reason to avoid that responsibility when today he’s making money from the same thing. He says his testimony would have been a “futile activity to satisfy the Democratic congressional leadership,” but conveniently forgets the bigger picture of his own moral responsibility to the American people. If he’s waxing righteous about the Democrats not being in a position to dictate to him “how best to bring this to the attention of the American people,” what then gives him the right to determine when to bring it to the attention of the same American people when all along he has these facts? I mean, how can he claim with a straight face that what the Democrats did with the impeachment in the Congress was as bad as what Trump did when he repeatedly claims Trump is not fit for office and when he cannot hide the fact that he wants his book to be read with a view to influencing the outcome of the forthcoming election in the direction of ensuring that Trump does not get a second term? He wants us to think whatever problem he subjectively has with the technicality of the management of the impeachment proceedings is as bad as the impeachable offence he as a witness knows has been committed. He’s claiming it is better he’s talking now, rather than when he should have talked at the impeachment hearing, but while that may be true, depending on how far this affects voters’ perception on November 3, it is not a matter of deliberation; it’s a matter of happenstance if it turns out to be so.

Bolton is pretending that he did not know the handicap the Democrats in the House of Representatives faced when the Ukraine thing came up. He and only he could have connected the dots Michael Purpura, the president’s counsel was accusing everyone of not connecting, but he didn’t come forward. He said they could have subpoenaed him when he knew that would have totally put the whole process in the dumps. Of what use is claiming he agreed to testify at the Senate when he knew the Republican majority there was not ever going to call him? Okay, surprise, surprise, he’s punted the ball forward to the election and he wants us to believe he would not vote for Trump and he would not vote for Biden. So, what is this great patriot going to do? “I’m gonna pick a conservative Republican and write his or her name in,” he says. Yeah, he’s so concerned about the prospects of someone not fit for office winning reelection, he’s going to waste his vote to make that point. He, a lifelong Republican who pounded the pavements for Barry Goldwater is so disturbed by the prospects of a fellow who he says does not fully understand the democratic process and the Constitution returning for a second term that he is going to do nothing by way of a vote to stop him. I think Bolton underrates the capacity of the average American to see through his partisan gimmickry. He and the moral cowards that are congressional Republicans would stand separately before the glare of history to take their medicine.

In conclusion, I’d say Bolton is an opportunist, even though I believe the facts about Trump in the book cannot be countered by Trump or any of his defenders. Indeed, their reaction has already given the game away. If there are really lies about Trump in the book, they would have been spending their time deconstructing those lies with evidence, rather than woollily claiming the book contains unspecified classified information. Of course, I know that some would counter this by saying they cannot specify the classified information in the book because that would defeat the purpose of their opposition to it; but they are in court, a public forum, arguing that already. The point is Trump and his people can speak publicly a little more specifically about it without this obvious attempt to silence Bolton. They had been through the prepublication review for four months and by the 24th of April 2020 were through when they made no more request from Bolton and his team. Choosing to sit on it forever thereafter is in bad faith and Bolton has a right to call their bluff and publish in June. Having said that, while I urge people to read the book as a good account of what went on with Trump when Bolton was in the White House, any proper reading must avoid accepting Bolton’s interpretation of the facts as part of the facts. No, there’s too much prejudice involved in his interpretation, especially against those he sees as political opponents. Whatever we get here should simply be considered along with other accounts of Trump we have from other books and other credible sources that are clearly not anonymous.