Guy Farmer: John Bolton’s best-selling book

In case you hadn't noticed, one of President Trump's former national security advisers, John Bolton, an experienced but very conservative diplomat, has written a book that trashes the president and describes life inside a chaotic White House. Although our thin-skinned president tried to stop publication of Bolton's book, the courts ruled against him and the best-selling book is now in bookstores around the country.

No one who knows anything about Bolton is surprised that he has turned against the president who appointed him to a very senior White House position. When Trump appointed Bolton I wondered how long that artificial "bromance" between two Type "A" personalities would last. I was surprised that Bolton lasted almost 18 months as Trump's national security adviser because I remembered how he shook up the State Department 15 years ago as President George W. Bush's interim ambassador to the United Nations .

Bolton, an "America First" maverick on foreign policy, like Trump, has said that if the huge UN building in New York City lost 10 floors, "it wouldn't make a bit of difference." He also called attention to the fact that the U.S. pays almost 25 percent of the bloated UN budget, but gets little in return, which didn't endear him to the UN-loving American foreign policy establishment.

According to reviewer Barton Swaim of the Wall Street Journal, Bolton's new book, titled "The Room Where It Happened," is "greater as an event than as a book." "Very few books, and certainly not a 500-page memoir about national security policymaking, could measure up to the media event that is its publication," Swaim wrote last Tuesday.

"The two main characters (in Bolton's book) are… the president himself and his mustached national security adviser,” Swaim continued. "They are at once closely aligned and disastrously at odds."

Those who hate the president will see the book "as just another collection of anecdotes proving Mr. Trump's awfulness" while the president's supporters will applaud his "intuitive belief in America's beneficent role in the world (and) his disdain for the intelligentsia."

Clearly, Bolton is a longtime Washington swamp-dweller who's willing to attack the swamp's alligators, as opposed to former Vice President Joe Biden, who's been swimming with those alligators for more than 40 years.

Bolton wrote about several episodes that damaged the president's credibility, including his tendency to suck-up to ruthless dictators like Russia's Vladimir Putin, China's Xi Jinping and North Korea's Kim Jong Un. According to Bolton, Trump was more interested in the photo-ops those encounters would generate than he was in making progress on bilateral relations with those hostile countries. Bolton wrote that he would be "hard-pressed to identify any significant decision during my tenure that wasn't driven by reelection calculations." Ouch!

All of this is vintage Bolton as he's managed to anger Trump along with leaders of both major parties. The president's most fervent apologists and devoted followers are furious at Bolton for writing a book that criticizes their Great Leader for being stunningly unprepared to deal with serious foreign policy issues.

Meanwhile, Democrats are angry because Bolton, who they've despised for years, refused to testify against Trump during the contentious congressional impeachment proceedings earlier this year. So everyone is mad at Bolton, who seems to be enjoying the national media attention that's helping him sell more books at $32.50 per copy.

I won't be buying Bolton's book although I share his assessment of our president as a horrible person and foreign policy ignoramus who doesn't know what he doesn't know. Bolton, a lifelong conservative Republican, won't be voting for President Trump in November, and neither will I.

Guy W. Farmer is the Appeal's senior political columnist.


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