For those too busy to read
Most people have one of two viewpoints on John Bolton. Some see him for what he is, an intelligent neoconservative (neocon) while others view him as a self-serving public servant who decided that he knew better than Donald Trump. According to his book, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir this Bolton curmudgeon is always right and has the power to back sell. In diplomatic terms, his righteousness attempts more to impress and less to illuminate. That being said, there is value in reading this book. For those on the left, it reinforces all the previous memoirs and hatchet jobs. For those who follow the neocon religion, you will see that Bolton is just as recalcitrant as Trump. If you call anyone who confronts President Trump’s petulance and lies a traitor, you will only get steamed.
One of the best quotes in the book is Bolton’s reaction to the way Trump typically handled communication. Bolton said, “As was often the case, Trump had truth mixed with misunderstanding and malice.” One of the low points in the tome is Bolton’s defense of his statement that we should employ the “Libyan model” when dealing with North Korea and Kim Jung-Un. In fact, after Muammar al-Gaddafi got rid of his nuclear capabilities the Arab summer came. The two have nothing to do with each other, but in the latter Gaddafi was run out of office, captured by a mob and murdered on a road. Bolton uses the Latin “post hoc, ergo propter hoc,” which means after this, therefore, because of this. The use of Latin throughout the book is a literary trick. He inserts arcane words and phrases to stamp his IQ on the text rather than aiming for effective and understandable writing.
Throughout his book, Bolton posits an incredulous vision of the past. Of course, the supreme leader in North Korea heard the phrase “Libyan model” and assumed that America was going to take away his bombs, overthrow him, then kill him and unite the peninsula. The walk-back in the book is flimsy.
Bolton clearly highlights one of Trump’s worst habits, not listening. Certainly, one can keep their mouth shut while not listening, but Bolton points out a different situation with Trump. When someone starts talking, the “leader of the free world” rudely interrupts and filibusters until everyone submits to his will and parrots his opinions. Bolton claims his role was keeping Trump from disastrous actions. He also shares his harsh criticism of the Trump term, “My Generals.” It can best be said that Bolton had a pure Napoleonic complex and viewed himself as “protecting” the nation from an ill-prepared president.
John Bolton’s book is noticeably big. Its 592 pages seem to cover every event that happened while John Bolton was Trump’s “Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.” Hmmm, his title is just about as long as the book. It’s written in diary style and follows the timeline of the way events unfolded. Don’t expect any descriptive passages based on visual observation. The book mostly focuses on the dialogs of its main characters.
Caution, in its initial release this book has many semi-typos. This is probably the result of too many hands touching the work. The White House wanted much of it to be redacted because they said it contained extremely sensitive, classified information. That’s doubtful. I think they were concerned about how the book’s details make Trump look bad.
Most of the book covers what Trump said, and how he handled leaders around the world. Those accounts are embarrassing not only to Trump, but to all of us. We elected an idiot. Trump’s lack of discipline with and execution of the duties of his office is stunningly glaring in this book. I came away from each chapter thinking the 45th President is so misinformed that he’s dangerous.
Who should read this book? The person who first comes to mind is Donald Trump. It’s John Bolton’s big reveal of all those times he didn’t speak truth to Trump’s face and the information he didn’t share with the oversight committees in Congress. If only Trump could read, perhaps he could begin to understand how people feel about him. Of course, it would hurt his feelings, but at this point who gives a damn?
A legal specialist might suggest that much of what is in Bolton’s book is hearsay, but at least he has conveyed those things he “thought” and “witnessed.” It would have been so much better had Bolton testified during the Impeachment Trial. Those involved in supporting Trump during that debacle should study this book and then ask themselves, “Why am I supporting our imbecile president?”
I highly recommend this book to any young person who is thinking about going into government, law or politics. It clearly expresses not only how governance should NOT be conducted, but how things SHOULD work in our Executive Branch. What I took away from this book is that Bolton believes Presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Barack Obama are not as smart as he is. Each of his opinions is highly filtered through his own ideological prism. While at times he can be objective, his sense of humor is sarcastic and heavily dosed with ad hominem.
There are some descriptions in Bolton’s book that make me question if he wrote the opposite of what he believes or was just being sarcastic. Most of the time my conclusion was the latter, but anyone could easily misunderstand his position. I have an impression that John Bolton is just as recalcitrant as his former boss. He’s also a “save his own ass-type” with a lengthy chapter on Venezuela, which is Trump’s and Bolton’s personal “bay of pigs” embarrassment. Bolton blames everyone else for the failures, just like Trump blames Bolton. Bolton admits that he combined the pandemic healthcare group with the biological warfare group, claiming that made them more efficient. He says they did their job on the COVID-19 case but that the real problem was the empty seat behind the resolute desk in the Oval Office, a clear attempt at his own vindication.
Now that we have psychological details about Trump’s life in the new book by his niece, Mary L. Trump, Bolton’s tome will be pushed aside and slowly dropped from news coverage. For a true news freak and political junky like me, Mary L. Trump’s book is amazing. A person trying to figure out who to vote for in November will view the book’s content through their own filters and prejudices.
If you want to save your money, you could wait until Bolton’s book arrives at your public library, if it is still open during the pandemic. To me, John Bolton has confirmed what all others have said before. When your critics think you are bad at what you do, and everyone who once worked for you thinks you are stupid or foolish, what more do we need to know? Many who have any sort of conversation with Donald Trump feel that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Bolton’s book simply confirms this.
Bolton says he won’t vote for Trump or Biden in November. Although Bolton wants us to think he’s some great “patriot,” he will waste his vote on someone else, like a “Bernie-bro.” I had no respect for John Bolton before I read his book and that hasn’t changed. He’s just another person who was tormented in his youth, spent his life being a good student with an excellent IQ and worked over and over to prove himself. He may be getting back at those who scorned his intellect, but he is in no way helping America. He’s helping John Bolton. At best, the book is a B-minus. It has some pictures at then end, but still, Trump will never read it.
The book that tells it like it is…
Gold, God, Guns & Goofballs: If you only read one chapter of this book, try “Take a Knee for America” and think about our never-ending conflicts between minorities and the police. I’m not asking you to take a stand but having a deep and honest conversation about why some people think the way they do would be productive. This is a book for the moment which seeks to start a conservation about peace. And if you are worried about social media, you really should check out the chapter called “Social Media Menace.”