Does Bolton Speak the Truth About Trump?

2,496 words

A couple of years ago I had a disturbing dream about Donald Trump. In the dream, I was working in the White House as some kind of staffer and had occasion to enter the Oval Office to inform President Trump about something. As I stood before the President’s desk, I noticed that he kept glancing away from me, and then began changing the subject. As I tried to lay out my important information, Trump kept veering off onto completely unrelated topics. Further, there was no real coherence to what he was saying, and no obvious reason why he said it.

After a while, I began to realize that it was impossible to communicate with the man. Indeed, it almost seemed like there was no one there to communicate with. It was much like that “Darth Trump” video [1] somebody put together back in 2015, in which Trump’s voice has been laid into Star Wars scenes of Darth Vader, saying utterly incongruous and irrelevant things to actors who seem genuinely puzzled by them. (As of this writing, that video has more than 6,399,000 views.) And, yes, by the way, I really did have this dream. At the time, I was an ardent, though fairly realistic, Trump supporter. But on recalling the dream the following morning, I felt uneasy. Was my subconscious trying to tell me something?

My support for Trump was never fully rational, never fully thought-through. Did I believe Trump would be able to fix the US? No, in 2016 my official position was (and remains) that the US is unfixable and doomed. In all likelihood, I believe it will eventually break apart, as did the USSR, that other ideological state, thirty years ago. And the breakup will almost certainly be along racial lines. But nobody wholeheartedly wants their own country to self-destruct, not deep down. And so when Trump came along and made noises about illegal immigration and building a wall, and when he was attacked hysterically by all the right people, I allowed myself to hope — just a little bit. Perhaps Trump could slow the decay. Perhaps he could do something about big tech censorship. Perhaps he could revitalize the working and middle classes. Perhaps he could “drain the swamp.” And so on, and so forth.

It was hard not to be enthusiastic, and to entertain some admittedly unrealistic hopes, when Trump defeated Hillary. When the election was called in Trump’s favor, it was one of the most thrilling nights of my life. But it was not primarily because Trump had won; it was because that loathsome, smug, Establishment bitch had lost. And, my oh my, all those delicious liberal tears. . . There is also something undeniably endearing about Trump. And the more he was attacked, the more endearing he became. I looked forward to watching each of his major speeches and rallies on YouTube, as they would generally boost my spirits.

The tweeting bothered me, though I accepted it as a way that Trump could circumvent the press and speak directly to the public. His inarticulate answers to questions bothered me also. I often had the nagging feeling that critics might be right that Trump didn’t really know what he was doing. He really did seem to be making it up as he went along. But then something would happen that suggested Trump was crazy like a fox. He would commit some apparent verbal blunder, which would then trigger the Left and cause them to behave badly — very badly. Then it would seem that, in fact, Trump had not blundered at all but had “trolled” the Left.

For example, there was the time he referred to illegal immigrants as coming from “shithole countries.” Predictably, the Left had a conniption fit. This put them in a bind, however. The primary humanitarian justification for immigration is that it allows people to escape shithole countries. If the shithole status of those countries is denied, then how do you justify. . . ? And so on. To be sure, I was never one of those who thought Trump was playing “4D chess.” In hindsight, however, some of what he did seemed clever. Still, another thought nagged me: what if he was just lucky? What if we were in a kind of Peter Sellers Being There situation? That is to say, imputing sagacity to someone who actually had none at all.

Try as I might, there was one area in which I found it almost impossible to read Trump as clever, and that was in his choice of personnel. I’ve lost count now of the number of people in prominent roles in the Trump administration who have left, some after extremely brief tours of duty. Many of whom went on to denounce the President. His decisions about people were rumored to be impulsive and highly intuitive. For example, according to legend, he chose Mike Pence as his running mate because Pence “looked like” a Vice President (from Central Casting, presumably). If true, the real takeaway here is that Trump wanted somebody who would be a solid second banana, and never risk outshining him. Whatever the process was, Pence is one of the few notable examples of a good personnel decision on Trump’s part, since he seems a stalwart and loyal fellow.

Of all those decisions, the one that makes the least amount of sense, hands down, is Trump’s appointment of John Bolton to be his national security advisor. I was stunned when this decision was announced in April 2018. Bolton is a neocon and career warmonger who has never met a war he didn’t like. As director of the Project for the New American Century, he was an enthusiastic advocate of the Iraq War, which took place when he was Under Secretary of State. Bolton has been pushing for war with Iran for years. He has even called for the US to invade Venezuela to unseat Nicolás Maduro. Trump, by contrast, has called for an end to the US policy of “forever wars” and “regime change.” He has been sharply critical of the neocons, and has called the Iraq War the worst mistake the US ever made. So what was Trump thinking when he invited somebody like Bolton into his administration?

My mind did somersaults trying to figure this one out; trying to lay some meaning onto this Rorschach blot of a President. Was this some kind of strategy? Was Trump trying to appease the neocon wing of the Republican party? If so, why? In this case, it was extremely hard to avoid the conclusion that Trump simply wasn’t thinking; that he didn’t know what he was doing. Perhaps he was badly advised by that shifty son-in-law of his, or by somebody else. But that possibility didn’t make things look any brighter. Any way you slice it, Bolton’s appointment made Trump look hapless, or witless.

And then the inevitable happened. On September 10, 2019, Trump tweeted that he had told Bolton his “services are no longer required,” implying that he had fired him. Bolton has told a different version of events, saying that he had offered to resign the day before, but that Trump had told him “let’s talk about it tomorrow.” If true, Trump clearly wanted to be seen to fire Bolton, rather than to allow him to resign. And now, also inevitably, Bolton has written a tell-all book titled The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir [2]. Just published by Simon and Schuster, it clocks in at 592 pages and is supposed to be full of details damning to Trump and his administration. The White House moved (unsuccessfully) to stop the book being published on grounds of national security — though earlier, apparently, Bolton was given clearance to write it. The judge who refused to stop the book’s publication nevertheless criticized Bolton’s judgment in writing it, and in revealing so much. President Trump and others in his administration are aggressively pushing the line that Bolton’s revelations are criminal, and that he is a “traitor.”

It is thus somewhat surprising that Bolton chose to sit down the other day for a lengthy interview with Fox News journalist Brett Baier. I find this surprising because, as my readers know, that network aggressively defends Trump against all critics. Bolton is making the rounds promoting his book, appearing in multiple venues, but he could have excluded Fox. That he did not indicates that Bolton wants to make sure that his message reaches Republican stalwarts. He is, of course, a member of the party establishment that opposed Trump from the beginning and would still like to undermine him, even if it means losing the 2020 election.

Now, one would suppose that Bolton would proceed to tell a tale of how he found himself at loggerheads with Trump over policy differences. After all, these are men who seem to have fundamentally different philosophies. But that is not what Bolton says at all. Instead, his chief complaints about Trump are that he is vacillating, whim-driven, obsessed with re-election, and that he has no philosophy at all.

Bolton says to Baier at one point, “Speaking as a lifelong conservative Republican, I wrote this book for everybody, liberal, conservative, moderate, but for conservatives especially, I think it’s important to see what they’ve actually got [in Donald Trump]. And it’s not a conservative philosophy. It’s not a liberal philosophy either. It’s no philosophy at all.”

So what does guide Trump, if not a philosophy? Quoth Bolton, “I think that the difference between the Trump approach to decision making and other presidents is that while every president takes political factors into account, the political factor, the principal motivator, the absolute center of Trump’s attention is his re-election.” As an illustration, he offers Trump’s “policy” on Venezuela: “The president, by the way, just second-guessed again a few days after saying that he would sit down with Maduro. Why? Because he’s concerned about the Venezuelan-American and Cuban-American vote in Florida. That’s what moves Trump on Venezuela.”

Bolton told Baier that he will not vote for Trump in November, but that he will not vote for Joe Biden either. Baier pointedly asked him who he thought would be better on foreign policy, Trump or Biden. Bolton’s response is damning: “I’ve known Joe Biden for a long, long time, and been on the opposite side of every issue. And we’ve also crossed swords on foreign and national security policy for a long time, and I’m not going to vote for him. The difference between Biden and Trump is that Biden has a view, and Trump has no view. On any given day, any decision is possible, and I find that frightening.”

Now, in case the foregoing did not make this clear, I am no fan of John Bolton. I think, in fact, that he is the poster child for everything wrong with the Washington establishment, and with establishment Republicans. Further, his motives in writing this book are clearly vindictive. Even friends of Bolton’s have come out and said that he is just pissed that Trump wouldn’t listen to him, or advance his neocon agenda. And Bolton must know that Biden’s election, and the ascendency of the far Left, would be catastrophic for the country. Apparently, what happens to the US doesn’t matter to Bolton — only what happens to Iran, Syria, Libya, Venezuela, Yemen, and North Korea.

There is no question that Bolton is a real sack of it. But given everything I have observed about Trump for the last four years, and what I have long suspected, the man’s criticisms ring true. The clearest evidence that Trump has no philosophy, no core beliefs, is the fact that Bolton was in his administration to begin with.

Still, the vacuum that is Donald Trump is now the only thing standing between us and full-on Left-wing totalitarianism without end. If you think things are bad now, wait until Joe Biden gets elected. Biden is essentially a Trojan horse for the far Left, who would be, to put it mildly, emboldened by his ascent to power. Goodbye, First Amendment, hello “hate speech” laws. Goodbye, Second Amendment. Goodbye, Electoral College. Goodbye, equal protection under the law, hello to open season on whites. Of course, given the obscene cowardice of our Republicans in the face of recent events, we know that all this may happen anyway, no matter who wins in November. Indeed, the process is already underway. That is why it is so vitally important to keep trying to fill the vacuum of Trump, as Tucker Carlson and others are doing. This is our last hope.

Careful Tucker viewers know that what he does not say is often as important, or more important, than what he says. For weeks, Tucker has covered the BLM riots with more honesty than you will get from anybody else on TV. He has repeatedly stated that we need “strong leaders” to respond to these outrages. But he has avoided directly criticizing Trump for his lack of action. Why? Because the rumors that Trump watches Tucker are quite true. Tucker wants to influence Trump, not drive him away Ann Coulter-style. But then, last week, Tucker could no longer restrain himself.

Toward the end of a long segment [3], he quoted an interview with Donald Trump in which the President was asked why he was not sending federal troops into cities besieged by looting and vandalism. Trump responded by saying “Right now, I think it’s great sitting back and watching this catastrophe.” These are liberal-run cities, and Trump is happy to allow people to conclude that the chaos is due to liberal policies. But Tucker called Trump out on this: “A president is responsible for all Americans, no matter where they live — for the country itself.” Trump isn’t thinking about that, however. Bolton would doubtless charge that Trump simply has re-election on his mind. He thinks the chaos will hurt Joe Biden. And Bolton would be right about this.

Then, a couple of nights later, Tucker really hammered Trump [4], warning him that unless he takes action to quell this lawlessness, he will lose the election. When Trump loses Tucker, he has lost his base. Of course, Tucker has not yet given up. He will continue to try and fill the Trumpian vacuum, but his patience is clearly wearing thin. Trying to fill the vacuum is really all we can do. That and hope that the vacuum gets re-elected, because the other vacuum would be far worse. Perhaps this way we can stave off complete disintegration just a little longer.

Trump is probably thinking right now: “This is what I get for hiring a guy with a mustache.”

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