In one of the final scenes of 1994’s Clear and Present Danger, the protagonist Jack Ryan (played by Harrison Ford) faces the President who had used US military assets to wage a personal war in Colombia. The President attempts to use threats and favors to win Ryan over, but Ryan is a principled patriot:
“It’s the old Potomac two-step, Jack.”
“Sorry, sir. I don’t dance.”
The final scene we see Ryan swearing in to a Congressional hearing, where he intends to tell all to Congress.
John Bolton is no Jack Ryan. He is trying to sell a book.
I am making no judgment about the contents so far revealed in Bolton’s book. Some of them – and, seeing President Trump’s reputation and activities before – may even be true. But Bolton’s activities regarding his book over the past year has given me little confidence that it is a truthful account.
President Trump’s critics from all sides are jumping all over it as truthful. I am taking a far more skeptical view – not because I support the President, but because I disbelieve John Bolton’s character and purposes here. I liked Bolton to some extent – while a bit hawkish, he did have a tendency to be anti-globalist and anti-UN. However, rather than go before Congress as he was requested multiple times to do, he is attempting to use the current environment and election-year timing to sell a book. It is a master stroke of publicity which even the President’s team almost has to react toward.
As it has been with most scandals leading up to an election, anything that brings this much publicity so close to election day is immediately suspect. We saw something similar in Justice Kavanaugh’s hearings, where harassment claims with little evidence were brought forward for his confirmation, and we see it time and again preceding election time.
John Bolton is not doing the nation any favors by publishing a book. He had his chance to make a true principled stand.
Instead, he’s dancing the Potomac Two-step.