Bolton on Trump, Trump on Bolton

Talk about not having a rooting interest! John Bolton is currently trying to sell his “memoir” by representing it as a steaming pile of Trump gossip, “revealing” that the president is an incompetent boob. Meanwhile, Donald Trump is anxiously fighting to have the book’s publication blocked as a national security threat, while simultaneously insisting that it is a pack of lies. I suspect that both are partly right, and that, as I have been writing here since before Bolton wormed his way into the administration, the two frauds deserve each other.

Here is a glimpse of the tone of Bolton’s hyped-up celebrity book tour description of his former boss:

“I don’t think he’s fit for office. I don’t think he has the competence to carry out the job,” Bolton said of Trump in a portion of the ABC interview that aired Thursday.

Bolton’s memoir, titled “The Room Where It Happened,” paints Trump as woefully uninformed and describes a series of troubling encounters with foreign leaders, which Bolton said proved the president was consumed with his political standing above all else….

“There really isn’t any guiding principle that I was able to discern other than what’s good for Donald Trump’s re-election,” Bolton said. “He was so focused on the re-election that longer-term considerations fell by the wayside.”

Of course the media, only too glad to give Bolton the ax to bury in Trump’s back, will just sit back and enjoy this Republican infighting, rather than earnestly challenge Bolton about why he was so full of praise and admiration for Trump’s policies and statements prior to being picked as Trump’s national security advisor. Surely he must have had an inkling of Trump’s level of competence and character two years ago, as every other semi-rational being on Earth certainly did. Did he really have to serve as a top administration official and participate in private foreign policy meetings with the president to learn that Trump is all about Trump, that he is ignorant and incurious, and that he never met a dictator he didn’t admire? 

Unlike his current bestseller-list meal ticket, Bolton is not a stupid man. On the contrary, he is a very clever and well-informed man. He is also a thoroughly disingenuous, cynical, and mendacious climber who has spent his long bureaucratic pencil-pusher’s career carefully fostering his image as a crusty old military thinker full of hard-won wisdom and homespun toughness. He is a lifelong self-promoting operator who evaded military service during Vietnam and smugly bragged about it later, and who has schmoozed his way to political significance by playing the media and spouting tough-sounding principles, while in fact always keeping one eye on his personal advancement. Sound familiar? Take away the part about not being stupid, and much of what I have just said echoes Bolton’s own critique of Trump.

Is Trump all the unworthy and dangerous things Bolton now says he is? Absolutely — and I knew that nine years ago, when Trump first toyed with the GOP presidential primary process. So, I presume, did Bolton. And therein lies the distinction. Unlike Bolton, I did not dissemble about my real judgment, pretend to admire Trump on Fox News, and praise his unprincipled self-promotion as brilliant strategy, in order to flatter my way into a career-defining position at the White House, working for a president I knew to be an ignorant, vain weakling. 

They deserve each other, the two self-aggrandizing blowhards. No one who would do what Bolton did to gain his position in Trump’s White House is worthy of trust. And no one who would hire a man like Bolton as national security advisor, merely because he loved being praised by the phony on Fox News, belongs in the Oval Office, in charge of America’s global fate.

A pox on both their houses. Well, they really share the same house, so we can save the leftover pox for another occasion.

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