Most Washington insiders knew it wouldn’t work, it was a bad idea, but did Trump listen? No of course he didn’t, listening to others is not really something narcissists do well. When Trump first hired John Bolton as national security adviser they had a sort of good cop, bad cop recipe in mind. For that to work though one of them actually has to have some qualities of a good cop.
After just 18 months this at best rocky relationship fell apart spectacularly. Bolton claims he quit while Trump claims he fired him, shock horror.
Now Bolton is openly declaring Trump unfit for the office of President, and is also accusing him of using foreign dictators and tyrants for an electoral leg-up in Novembers elections. According to Bolton Trump is quite happy to ignore Chinese concentration camps for Muslims if they can somehow help him.
Trump provides no defence for himself from these claims and has instead fallen back on his favourite tactic of name-calling, specifically he has called Bolton both a “wacko” and a “sick puppy.” I’m not sure calling somebody disgusting and in need of being put down is all that presidential. This is political warfare at its most loathsome, its most based and perverse, but that seems to be the only level within which Trump can feel at home.
Bolton of course is no better.
Bolton is a cold warrior, or as Roger Ailes once referred to him, a “bomb thrower.” In just this vein of cold heartlessness Bolton’s book is a sneering attack on the diplomatic peace process of “international governance,” he even goes on to attack and blindly label Europeans as weak-kneed ninnies.
Like Trump, Bolton seems to enjoying showcasing himself as a fighter, going so far as to say that juggling phone calls at a G7 event made him feel like he was “[part] of the Light Brigade,” or that his “scar tissue had scars.” These powerful metaphors are just that though, Bolton may love sending men and bombs at the enemy but when it came time for him to serve he dodged the draft and joined the non-combatant guard instead, citing that he did not want to join a losing war.
Like Bolton himself the Trump outlined in this tell-all book seems eager for conflict. “Hit ’em, finish ’em,” he yells during a dispute with the Turkish president, “Kick their ass,” he orders an envoy to China during the well publicised trade dispute.
Yet Trump is all bark and no bite, he could never bring himself to actually follow through on any threat made. This is no different according to Bolton from the way Obama “graced the world with his views, doing nothing to see them carried out.” Like the president Bolton also hated Obama, and just like Trump Bolton never quite explains why, presumably they hated his ability to maintain graceful and keep his class even when under pressure.
To give Trump a little bit of praise though he resisted Bolton’s continued attempts at what he called a “kinetic response.” First Trump called off joint exercises in an attempt to ease tensions with North Korea, then he called off a strike on Iran because 150 civilian casualties were predicted.
Apparently even changing his mind about invading Venezuela gives Bolton cause for frustration. Bolton’s Trump is a coward in his eyes, eyes that appear to love the thought of American soldiers standing on hostile foreign soil the world over.
There was one topic of conversation though that Bolton admits he was too afraid to broach, the topic of Putin. Bolton states he was “afraid of what I might hear.” Bolton sells this book as “The Room Where It Happened” referencing a meeting between Putin and Trump, a meeting Bolton was not present for and neither does he ever explain what “It” refers to.
If we ignore all the bravado and false impressions Bolton gives us this book really is nothing more than a catalogue of his failings to incite American showdowns with the EU, Nato, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Venezuela and more. Bolton gave up his greatest shot at changing American history when he refused to stand up and testify during Trump’s impeachment hearing. In the books epilogue Bolton gives us a rather familiar excuse for his absence from the trial, why bother when impeachment was a lost cause. Clearly Bolton’s moral compass is not just broken, I think it’s fucking missing.
The Room Where It Happened is a book of two halves, on one hand it’s a book attacking Donald Trump, and on the other it’s a monument to Bolton and his own ego. For Bolton Trump is akin to Julius Caesar, a tyrant looking to change the political landscape for his own gain while Bolton is a true Republican standing up for the values his country was built upon. It’s a lofty standard and one that Bolton falls far short of. Bolton colluded with a vicious and morally corrupt man and only now that he has fallen from favour does he paint himself in this manner.
No matter how much Bolton may try and blindfold the reader to the truth it is quite clear that he and Trump, the man he so vehemently attacks, are one and the same. They are cut from the same cloth and rather than vindicating himself with this book all he has done is make it clear that he should be nothing more than a footnote in American history.
You can grab copy for yourself at Amazon.