Peggy Noonan on John Bolton
Bad temper is a bad thing in a public servant, but it is not the worst thing. Worse is the person who judges all questions as either career-enhancing or career-retarding, who lets the right but tough choice slide if standing for it will make him controversial and therefore a target. Mr. Bolton apparently never does that. Worse is the person who doesn’t really care that the right thing be done, as long he gets his paycheck. That’s not Mr. Bolton either. Worse still is the cynic who is above caring about anything beyond his own concerns. And that isn’t Mr. Bolton either.
Of course, there are presumably qualified candidates out there who are neither careerists nor assholes. Ceteris paribus, I would prefer one of them.
Noonan is right, though, that “bad temper” is “a flaw with a long provenance” among politicos, citing such highly respected leaders as Harry Truman and Bob Dole were were afflicted with it. If Bolton’s chief flaw is that he is sometimes rude to subordinates who turn in subpar performances, I don’t see that as a disqualifier. Certainly, a bit of impatience with the ilk running the U.N. bureaucracy would be a useful and admirable trait.