Do you remember a time that you met someone, got to know them and thought about them each day and then, for one reason or another, they had to leave and you were forced to say goodbye?
I’ve had that happen a lot over the course of last year and this year (although I will admit that I was not a fan of the people I was saying goodbye to).
I’m talking about the many, many people that we have seen come and go from the Trump administration. While there have been some former White House aides that still make sure to stay relevant and pop up in our news feed, or our reality television, many have been replaced by representatives that have more extreme right-wing policies. In the news recently there has been one appointee that is incredibly controversial; I am referring to former National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster’s replacement, John Bolton.
I only began to learn about John Bolton when he became much of the discussion on the podcasts that I listen to from Crooked Media. I wanted to get a better picture of who Bolton is, so I searched for two political columns that had different views of Bolton.
David Leonhardt wrote the first column that I reviewed. Leonhardt shares early on in the column, a statement from a former government official, Kelly Magsamen, that is important to know for anyone forming an educated opinion of Bolton as National Security Advisor.
Magsamen “called Bolton’s job — national security advisor — “by far the most important national security position in our government” because “this person is the one in charge of shaping and framing national security decisions for the President.” She added that “Bolton has no moderating tendencies.”
Knowing and understanding this position is the only way to fully understand the impact Bolton will have while holding this position and what powers he is given. However, Leonhardt changes gears after the first few paragraphs and goes into a discussion of the current extremism in the Republican party and how we need to save our democracy.
I do like the rest of Leonhardt’s column and I think that he makes important points and uses them in reference to the beginning of the column where he discusses how trump replaces advisors who try to moderate him with people who will feed into his extreme impulses; however, there is not much focus on Bolton in general and his extremist views on waging war. There could be a lot more detail in here, but overall I do like this column and it aligns with my views from what I have gathered of Bolton.
The other column that I read was from Micheal E. O’Hanlon. This piece is unique because O’Hanlon writes that he knows Bolton personally and seems to think pretty highly of him.
“He is very hard-line—think of Dick Cheney times two. He is very disciplined and savvy—again, think Cheney. He is a critic, and a skeptic, of the so-called establishment, and with that worldview goes a certain reserved, even laconic, personality; in my experiences with him, he is generally polite and pleasant, but not effusive or outgoing.”
O’Hanlon then takes a similar approach to Leonhardt and describes the role of the National Security Advisor, but his approach involves describing different models of advisors using specific examples of past administrations.
After O’Hanlon goes through all of these categories, he states that he is hopeful that Bolton will fit into the first category:
NATIONAL SECURITY “COORDINATOR”
Many national security advisors never wind up as close confidants of the commander in chief. Rather, they help make the trains run on time, ensuring that presidents hear various well-developed views in policy debates and decisions, then following up to ensure good implementation of those decisions.
O’Hanlon does elude to Bolton’s extreme views as the reason for hoping that Bolton takes on the National Security “Coordinator” role.
“Given his views, I hope for the first model, but of course it primarily will be up to President Trump to decide.”
While I don’t fundamentally agree with everything O’Hanlon wrote and I also do not think that Bolton will be a level headed advisor; I do think this column was well written and offers a nice look into the position of National Security Advisor.