John Bolton: Then & Now

This following commentary from The Morning Dispatch carries the day for me. I’ll only add my brief thoughts at the end.

“Throughout the course of President Trump’s impeachment and trial, one of the most important things he’s had going for him has been that almost none of the figures testifying against him had any substantial previous public profile. Bill Taylor, Gordon Sondland, Marie Yovanovitch, Fiona Hill, Alexander Vindman—were all individuals unknown to the average U.S. voter. So Trump surrogates and allies were able to portray each one—including Taylor and Sondland, hand-picked by top Trump advisers—as a grasping deep-stater with an ax to grind against the president, and whose testimony could thus be safely discounted.

“John Bolton is different. The man who upended Trump’s trial this week, confirming that the president said he wouldn’t release military aid to Ukraine until that country committed to his desired investigations, is a longtime fixture in GOP politics: a prominent official in both the Bush and Trump White Houses and a mainstay on Fox News during the Obama years who commanded the respect of movement and professional conservatives alike. 

“But the fact that Bolton may now play a major antagonistic role in the Trump trial, of course, changes the calculation quite a bit. It’s hard to believe that anyone other than Lou Dobbs would think it possible to portray Bolton as a “tool of the left” or an avatar of the Deep State but it’s already begun.

“It’s worth remembering what top Republicans said about Bolton when he was chosen as Trump’s national security adviser in March 2018—and when he departed last September.

Sen. Lindsey Graham: “Selecting John Bolton as National Security Adviser is good news for America’s allies and bad news for America’s enemies. I have known John Bolton for well over a decade and believe he will do an outstanding job as President Trump’s new National Security Adviser … President Trump could not have made a better choice in terms of having a reliable, seasoned, national security confidante.”

Rep. Lee Zeldin: “Ambassador John Bolton is ridiculously knowledgeable and will be a great National Security Adviser. The leaks coming out of the National Security Council will end, Obama administration holdovers will be gone and the team, chemistry and work product will all be improved. Ambassador Bolton is a very underrated, amazing American, and I applaud this extraordinarily talented pick.”

Rep. Jim Banks: “Ambassador Bolton is an excellent choice for National Security Adviser. He is a solid conservative and will bring a wealth of experience to the role. During this critical time, the American people will be fortunate to have his leadership as we rebuild our national defense.”

Sen. Marco Rubio: “I know John Bolton well and believe he is an excellent choice who will do a great job as National Security Adviser.”

Sen. Mitch McConnell: “As he departs the position of National Security Advisor, I want to thank Ambassador John Bolton for his many years of valuable service to our country. Personally, I have always appreciated John’s candid and clear advice. He possesses something crucial—the ability to understand the world the way it is. He knows there are many threats to American interests, and that those threats will not recede if we retreat … I wish him well wherever his career next takes him.”

Sen. Ted Cruz: “John Bolton is a friend, and he has devoted his life to defending our national security, including providing wise counsel to multiple administrations.”

Back to me.

I will be watching carefully to see if these Republicans change their tune simply because they seek to stay in Trump’s favor. Did they really mean what they said about Bolton earlier? If so, they should listen to what he offers to say and vote for witnesses to be included in this impeachment trial. If they don’t, they will only be cementing their hypocrisy by promoting a sham trial.