Post-Bolton Reality

  • Among the many not lamenting the departure of former National Security Adviser John Bolton is North Korea. Its envoy to nuclear talks with the U.S., Kim Myong-gil, has characterized the ouster of Bolton as a welcome and “wise political decision.” That downright diplomatic language had been absent when it came to the hardline Bolton. Recall that North Korea, which had blamed Bolton and hawkish aides for the nuclear stalemate, had turned up the anti-Bolton, anti-diplomatic rhetoric with references such as “war maniac” and “human scum.” Now the onus is on both sides to finally cut a meaningful denuclearization deal sans scapegoat.
  • New National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien is the author of “While America Slept,” billed as a “wake-up call to the American people.” In it he warned that the world had become more dangerous “under President Obama’s lead-from-behind foreign policy.” And now he’s signed on to the administration of the one who alienates and insults allies and unilaterally misleads from behind Twitter.
  • When it comes to those who testify before Congressional Committees, there are all-too-familiar optics. From preening, agenda-driven committee members to reluctant witnesses. As for the latter, some are terse. Or curt. Or obstinate. Or flat-out combative. And then there’s the contemptible Corey Lewandowski, who recently testified before the House Judiciary Committee on what role he might have played in helping the president curtail the scope of the Russian investigation. Lewandowski is a self-serving, infuriating punk who’s obviously still doing the bidding of Donald Trump—while using the hearing forum to promote that allegiance in a way that could help him politically. Oliver North never seemed so cooperative and pleasant.  
  • Beautiful.”—President Donald Trump’s tweeted reaction to Lewandowski’s opening statement.
  • “He’s filibustering. This is a coverup plain and simple.”—House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler’s take on Lewandowski’s testimony.
  • We know that there hasn’t been anybody like Trump as president before. Andrew Johnson never seemed so presidential. But there have been periodic foreshadowings, including the Nixon-Agnew take on the media and impeachment scenarios. Here’s another. Before there was Trump’s “basket-of-deplorables” base—as defined by Hillary Clinton in 2016–there was this high-profile incident during the Democratic primary of 2008. It came courtesy of HuffPo putting online audio of Barack Obama speaking at a private fundraiser in San Francisco. Obama referenced those in Midwestern small towns and rural Pennsylvania where a changing world had claimed traditional jobs. As a result, many white residents felt frustrated and embittered. They blamed government, turned to religion, reveled in their firearms and sought scapegoats.

“So, it’s not surprising then that (people there) get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations,” said Obama. The “bitter-cling” comments, ironically, were like news-cycle manna for the struggling Clinton campaign. “Americans need a president that will stand up for them,” responded Clinton playing the anti-elitist card. “Not a president that looks down on them.” Yes, that was then.

  • These are America’s biggest challenges: avoiding worst-case showdowns with Iran, North Korea and China; being part of the solution to the climate change threat; and protecting America’s democracy from Russian interference. Could there be a worse time for an ultra-impulsive, unprepared, arrogant, narcissistic commander-in-chief surrounded by career-first sycophants and opportunists? There’s a reason why “Seven Days in May” and “Dr. Strangelove” remain in the conversation.
  • Jay Powell and the Federal Reserve Fail Again. No ‘guts,’ no sense, no vision. A terrible communicator.”—Yes, that was the ‘communicator’-in-chief.  
  • “Is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader?” That was the president’s vintage Trumpian response—as well as a rhetorical question–to an intelligence community whistleblower’s complaint about a “promise” allegedly made by Trump to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
  • TrumpWorld opportunist update: Sean Spicer just made his debut on “Dancing With the Stars.” His take: “Frankly, I’m just making money, trying to enjoy life.” How candid. Too bad he couldn’t be that honest when he was Trump’s sycophantic, tap-dancing spokesman.
  • Trump’s British counterpart, to the degree that’s possible, is Boris Johnson—or BoJo—as he’s known in the UK. And he’s no more popular with traditional western European allies than Trump is. They view Johnson as the villain of the Brexit campaign, and they still miss the early Tony Blair, who could woo the French, for example, in their own language. And the Europeans, ironically, also remember when Johnson was a journalist in the 1990s, spinning highly exaggerated stories about the EU that helped pioneer the outraged Eurosceptic style in the British press. 
  • Linda Ronstadt, the 10-time Grammy winner whose career was ended by Parkinson’s disease, will be honored in December at the Kennedy Center in Washington. She said she will be there to accept the honor—if Trump doesn’t attend. “I don’t think anybody would show up” if he were going, she underscored.
  • Donald Trump: “I think I’m going to get a Nobel Prize for a lot of things, if they gave it out fairly, which they don’t.” Whatever.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *