When John Bolton to sign my copy of his book (reviewed & recommended here and here) at the Log Cabin “convention” this weekend, I, noting how he had been asked of having a temper during his confirmation hearings, asked how he maintained his cool during the constant frustrations of diplomatic negotiations at the United Nations and elsewhere.
His reply (as best as I can remember it) was that if he were the man portrayed in the media, he wouldn’t have supported his own confirmation.
What impressed me about John Bolton the man when he spoke to Log Cabin last Friday was how diplomatic and unassuming he was. Given what I’d read in the media, I expected a man to emerge spouting fire and emitting smoke.
Instead, a level-headed man emerged, able to talk thoughtfully about world affairs. I had assumed he was a man like many passionate men (including yours truly) who on occasion when frustrated lose their cool and say and do things they later regret. I had believed that the MSM was making overmuch of a handful of outbursts, to which they themselves may also be subject.
But, after observing him, albeit for a limited time, I could see him keeping his cool, even under trying circumstances.Â He showed his real strength in the breadth of knowledge he offered in his responses to the various audience questions.
To a question on Cuba, he was not only able to talk about current conditions on that island prison, but also to discuss the history of Soviet aide. He even knew that about the popularity in Russia of a 1990s documentary about those subsidies.
Focusing on the current contest for the White House, he found a “conceptual gulf” between John McCain and either of the two Democratic presidential contenders. If we allow the Democrats to win in ’08 so GOP could retake the White House in ’12, he said, the country would be “at risk.” He warned of the Democrats controlling both House of Congress and the White House as they had for the entirety of the Carter Administration and the first two years of Clinton’s.
He also acknowledged that “nobody’s going to be satisfied with candidate’s view on every issue.”
He then spoke about China, noting how that east Asian power is threatening US dominance in the Western Pacifica. He does not see a return to the Cold War with Russia, noting that we share common concerns, particularly the struggled against Islamofascism. Russia feels isolated, he said. He also noted the “failed policies” of the Clinton Administration in dealing with our Cold War adversary.
On Iraq, he said he was surprised by the success of the surge. If we leave “precipitously,” nations in the Middle East would be more subject to Iran, “the world’s central banker for international terrorism.” Iran, he believes, represents one of the great strategic failures of then Bush Administration. Five years of European negotiations have failed to stop the mullahs from their pursuit of WMDs. And the recent National Intelligence Estimate (much ballyhooed in the MSM) made that Islamofascistic regime “freer to develop nuclear weapons.”
North Korea has also been a blot on the Bush Administration’s record. He found it appalling that that communist nation was removed from the list of state sponsors of terror.
Echoing a point made in his book, he observed how the foreign service staff thinks they are responsible for foreign policy, but in the United States, unlike Europe, constitutional legitimacy flows from the president to the bureaucracy and not vice versa.
He did note some Administration successes, how Libya gave up its nuclear program, shortly after the liberation of Iraq.Â That program now sits in boxes in Oak Ridge, Tennessee where there’s room from Iran and North Korea’s programs as well.
Bolton struck me as both a level-headed and erudite man. He may have had notes in front of him, but as I watched him speak, he seemed more focused on the audience than on any printed page on the on the podium in front of him. He responded to audience questions with a wealth of facts and thoughtful arguments. As well as good humor.
Once again, it seems the MSM has misrepresented a thoughtful Republican. Had more Americans paid attention to his confirmation hearings, I daresay Senate Democrats would have found it difficult to block his confirmation.
But, then again, character assassination seems to standard procedure for the left when they meet thoughtful conservatives who stand up for the United States and its values and don’t back down when challenged. Indeed, such challenges strengthen their resolve.
John Bolton is clearly a man of principle, eager to advocate for this nation he loves and unwilling to give into the bureaucrats who see process and agreement for the sake of agreement as the be all and end all of foreign policy.
Our recent failures in North Korea prove the folly of that bureaucratic vision. Another reason we need John Bolton as Secretary of State — to right the wrongs of the past few years.