By John Nichols
John Bolton is not a savvy analyst of global affairs with a record of smart thinking on the diplomatic and defense challenges facing the United States. He’s the opposite of that. Bolton’s not even a credible conservative veteran of the diplomatic corps. He’s a right-wing political hack whose electoral machinations go back to his days as a 15-year-old Students for Goldwater organizer and extend through his dramatic interventions on behalf of the George W. Bush campaign to shut down recounts of Florida’s 2000 presidential vote.
For his record of thuggish and unthinking partisanship, Bolton has been rewarded with positions of power and influence. But he has always made a mess of things—so much so that his “thanks-for-what-ya-done-in-Tallahassee” selection as Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations was cut short by the fact that he could never muster sufficient support from a Republican-run Senate to gain an initial confirmation or extend his recess appointment.
It was a Republican senator, Ohio’s George Voinovich, who in 2005 warned the chamber that giving in to Bolton’s nomination would “put at risk our nation’s ability to successfully wage and win the war on terror.” An even more conservative Republican, South Dakota Senator John Thune, said he rejected Bolton because the United States should “take our diplomatic posture just as seriously as we take our defense posture”—which was not something he imagined Bolton was capable of doing.