John Bolton as Right-Wing Jester
You might think that John Bolton, former American Ambassador to the United Nations and holder of various other foreign policy posts in Republican administrations, is a pretty smart fellow. And you would be right. After all, he attended Yale (graduating Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa) and then (rather than serving in Viet Nam) went straight to Yale Law School where he purportedly chummed around with Clarence Thomas. From what I can tell Bolton and Thomas seem to be similarly belligerent, resentful, angry characters. But surely one should not take being perpetually cranky and avoiding military service as indicators that the man is not smart.
In the NYRB this week there is a review of Bolton's recent book suggesting that however smart he may be, he is more or less wholly unreliable when it comes to providing credible evidence or offering reasoned argument.* Indeed, Bolton apparently is so ideologically driven that there is little reason to take him seriously, except, that is, for the tendency of his right-wing patrons to keep appointing him to government posts. In that respect, though, we would be taking him seriously not as a smart, capable fellow but as a potentially dangerous embarrassment. Fortunately, Bolton has found a post at the American Enterprise Institute where he can take pot shots at the Bush Administration for being insufficiently unilateralist and bellicose. Bolton may not be self-reflective enough to see how laughable such views are, but the folks at AEI should be embarrassed. At a minimum they should stop using the noun "research" to refer to the stuff Bolton is producing for them.
* I admit that I've neither read Bolton's book nor intend to do so. I hardly see this as a problem given the proliferation of right-wing tripe being published these days. Authors like Bolton simply give us no reason to read what they produce, at least unless someone is paying us to review the book. They are preaching to the converted. Unless I were being paid I would no more spend time reading John Bolton's rants than I would cue up a Michael Bolton record on the CD player.