WASHINGTON—the most surprising thing about John Bolton’s book is how few surprises it contains. Certainly, his portrait of a White House governed by incompetence laced with malice, it is worrying. But it is also what has come to be expected of accounts of the President of Donald Trump’s time in office.
“The Room Where it Happened,” Bolton working memory as a consultant to the national security, was released Tuesday after months of speculation, the court battles, excerpts, interviews and debate about whether Bolton should be given to the satisfaction of the public.
Get through over 400 pages of play-by-play narrative, a reader comes to Bolton’s defense tell-all memoirs: they are essential to “spreading the curtains”, he says, because that “press accounts and at the moment the stories are too often lacking in insight and understanding.” The thing is, Bolton’s insider account is more confirmation than revelation, precisely because the portrait it paints of “chaos as a mode of life,” agrees entirely with the impression given by the media.
“I’m struggling to identify significant Trump’s decision was not motivated by re-election calculations,” Bolton wrote. Now, that reads like more of the same.
As a correspondent of the Canada, I’m obliged to point out that Justin Trudeau made a brief appearance as the subject of a well-known Trump fit of anger after the G20 meeting in Quebec city in 2018. Trump already hated the Canadian prime minister, Bolton wrote, and got angry when he used a press conference to complain about a then-commercial litigation. He has ordered his staff to take to the television to disparage canada as a traitor. Canada Huawei extradition confrontation with China (still climbing, with the Canadians as the policy of de-facto hostages) also comes in for a brief discussion, showing Trump’s ready-to-use the underlying question that the trade of the leverage effect. But for the small details, these episodes are already well known in Canada, and little new is revealed here.
As many critics and commentators have already pointed out, a lot of Bolton account consists of self-glorification and hawkish policy arguments. These elements may be less convincing for many of Bolton’s representation of how the White House under Trump is working and what is not.
Bolton portrays Trump as impulsive and vain, ill-informed and little interested in being informed, irresponsible, and dishonest. He compares Asset for a toddler, with a penchant for “personal and promotes the dictators he loves” and recounts episodes from the Trump loved most dictators, with more enthusiasm, that most prefer. He staged a series of dictators play the Trumpet like a violin, by appealing to his ego. It confirms the allegations contained in the impeachment trial and said that the case is one example among many of the president to subordinate the interests of his own political and personal.
In trying to advise the president, Bolton writes, it is like making the “policy inside a pinball machine,” where the strategy meetings look like a “college food fights,” where a patron obsessed with the TV will instruct the staff to “praise him more” in their appearances and often change policy on a whim, often through a tweet — to undermine the whole of his government, without knowing it, or without paying attention.
Trump and his advisors have accused Bolton of being a liar, a washed up crank, which gave one of the most powerful and influential jobs in the world of something like pity. A man who is not worth paying attention to.
But what Bolton said is similar to what many other former Trump staff members have said, few players such as Omarosa Manigault Newman and Anthony Scaramucci by heavy vehicles, such as those who testified at the hearing of indictment and the former secretary of defense James Mattis. Some may well be sour grapes, but it comes to seem like each piece of fruit Trump handles finally spills of vinegar.
And although Bolton portrays the media as a terrible horde of the inaccuracy of the vultures, the picture he painted of the Asset from the White House is consistent with the picture revealed in installments by the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN.
“The Chaos is a way of life.” As I said, no surprise there. Maybe it seems monotonous should be the most shocking thing about it.
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