Peggy Noonan on John Bolton

Betsy Newmark points to an interesting defense of John Bolton by Peggy Noonan:

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.

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Jim Henley says:

    But that’s not his chief flaw. That’s his apologists’ spin on his chief flaw. Two different things.

  2. Kappiy says:

    Who cares about Bolton’s temper?

    The guy is incompetent–that’s his flaw. He doesn’t have the capacity to distinguish facts that don’t fit into his worldview.

    The whole personality angle is typical of Bush apointees and Bush’s justification for them. Their actual record is unimportant. Rice, Gonzalez,Wolfowitz, Medal of Freedom winners Bremer and Tenet are all examples of a willful ignorance of record in favor of commending people because they’re “a good man.”

  3. Alex Knapp says:

    Agreed with the above. Bolton’s flaw is that he’s willing to play political games with intelligence, either by hiding it from his superiors or ignoring it to give speeches, and firing those who criticize him for it.

    What more do you need?

  4. Alex Knapp says:

    And by the “above,” I mean the other two commentators.

  5. herb says:

    I must conclude from the above comments that we have amoung us those who would like to see the UN continue their path of anti americanism that has been the theme of the UN to date.

    Bolton is the kind of guy that will let the UN know just how worthless they really are, and that is what America needs.

    For those who are pro UN, don’t be so free with my money that has supported this disgraceful bunch af anti american, crooked and pro terrorist group of horses rear ends.

    The UN is sorely in need of a good house cleaning and Bolton is the guy that can do it

  6. Bithead says:

    I would say, given the state of the UN, it’s about time we got someone in there with a temper.

    Hmmmm?

  7. Alex Knapp says:

    A) “Cleaning up” the U.N. isn’t his job description.

    B) Even if it was, the man simply IS NOT COMPETENT. He’s lied under oath, hid information from his superiors, abused his subordinates, and ignored vital intelligence.

    The man would be fired from a McDonald’s, for Christ’s sake!

  8. Bithead says:

    And by the way… if a personality cult is all Bush’s other appointees are, and they’re all incompetant boobs, explain why they’re so successful, and why they ahve the support of the people?

    Sorry, no sale, Kappiy. Not even close.

  9. Jim Henley says:

    I must conclude from the above comments that we have amoung us those who would like to see the UN continue their path of anti americanism that has been the theme of the UN to date.

    Of course you must.

  10. Anderson says:

    Bithead: “And by the way… if a personality cult is all Bush’s other appointees are, and they’re all incompetant boobs, explain why they’re so successful, and why they ahve the support of the people?”

    (1) “So successful”? At what? Good god.

    (2) “why they have the support of the people”? What do you think a “personality cult” is, Bithead?

    The evidence against Bolton are pretty tremendous, but those who say “oh, he’s just rude” obviously are bored by evidence. Comrade Bush has said Bolton is a good man; thus, we support Bolton.