Solving “The Bolton Problem”
You have to ask yourself why, with all the trouble this administration already has on its hands, it would stand by a troublemaker like John Bolton.
I have some ideas on that.
Almost nothing in Washington happens without there being what reporters call a “back story.” That’s a euphemism for, “the real reasons as opposed to the Orwellian talking point reasons.”
In Bolton’s case the administration’s talking point reasons are that Bolton is a tough guy and a straight talker and that’s just what we need at the United Nations.
The back-story is far more interesting. You see, Bolton knows where all – and I mean ALL – the bodies are buried, creating for the Bush administration a certain “Bolton Problem.”
Let’s start before the beginning. Before George W. Bush was declared President, Bolton was already on the payroll. The first time you saw Bolton you might have had a flush of déjà vu. You knew you had seen this guy before but could not recall where. Let me help.
Remember that cross-eyed bald guy the news always shows looking for hanging chads during the Florida recount? Well, the next time you see that file footage look behind him and you will see John Bolton. (Story)
Bolton was flown to Florida by Bush Family consigliore, James Baker; to make sure things went their way. And, now that we know just how “unpleasant” Bolton can get when things don’t go his way, we should not be surprised that Florida went their way.
So it started there. So Bolton’s head is chuck full of all the who’s, what’s, where’s and how’s of the Florida recount operation. including how it was really paid for, and by whom.
Having won his chops in Florida Bolton was put at the State Department to keep a Bush-eye on Powell. Bush picked him because Powell’s popularity ratings were higher than his own and because he could claim the distinction of appointing the first black to the job. But the Bushites did not trust Powell as far as they could throw him. So they put Bolton there to spy on him and, when necessary, sabotage him.
Trusted friend Richard Armitage was Powell’s choice as his right hand man and his job soon became keeping an eye on Bolton and, when necessary, to abscess Bolton off when he started causing trouble. That turned out to be a fulltime job for Armitage. This was pure, cutthroat; take no prisoners, raw palace politics. Shakespeare could not have embellished upon it.
But it was during the run up to the war in Iraq that having Bolton at State as a Bush Neocon mole really paid off. Powell and Armitage were something less than convinced by administration evidence that Iraq posed a clear and present threat to the US. Bolton, working with VP Cheney’s office kept the pressure on Powell by leaking information that undermined his boss’s position that the matter should be left for now in the hands of the United Nations and UN weapons inspectors.
As with the Florida recount operation, Bolton was one of just a handful of Bushites on the inside of Iraq War WMD propaganda operation. He knows what they really knew at the time. He also knows how (and who) cooked that information to justify war.
One more thing, and this shows just how “good” the Bushites are at what the do.
Not only did Bolton help the administration sell the false story about Iraq’s weapons programs but, as a bonus, they got Powell to personally peddle those lies live and in living color to the entire world. What a sweet moment it must of have been for John Bolton -- to have maneuvered his prey, Powell, and his nemesis, Armitage, to commit credibility suicide on the floor of the hated United Nations. Could life get any better for a Neocon?
After Bush won reelection a disgraced Powell and Armitage slunk off in defeat. The tried and true Condi Rice was going to be Secretary of State now so hit man Bolton was no longer needed at State. In fact he was not even wanted there. Rice knew first hand how much trouble Bolton could be and she wanted him nowhere near here turf.
But that left them with a problem -- what to do with Bolton? He knew too much to just fire. The administration knew only too well what fired insiders do – they write tell-all books. And if Bolton “told all,” people could go to jail. He could spark a “gate” -- Iraggate, Boltongate, Votegate, Cheneygate. Who knew if any would stick but if one or more did, it would ruin Bush’s second term.
Images of Dick Nixon waving goodbye from the helicopter steps haunted Karl Rove’s dreams.
Then it struck them. The UN is a pain in our ass. Bolton is a pain in the ass. The UN is mired in scandal and polls show the public doesn’t think much of the organization any more. Let’s “promote” Bolton to UN Ambassador.
They must have rolled on the Oval Office floor laughing the night they came up with that idea. “I can see it now,” Rove might have said. “Here comes the Nigerian ambassador, robes flying in all directions as he runs for his life down a hallway with red-faced John screaming behind him demanding he sign a resolution.”
Putting Bolton at the UN would be like setting off a stink bomb in a school auditorium. What a hoot that would be!
The administration figured nominating Bolton for the job was a win/win solution to the “Bolton Problem.” If the Senate confirmed him he would go to the UN and make trouble-on-order for the administration there as he did at State. But, if the Senate refused to confirm him then it would be a “clean kill.” Bolton problem solved. Bush’s hands would be clean.
“Gosh John, sorry. Those damn liberal Democrats! It’s the politics of personal destruction John and you are just their latest victim. You know I think you would have made a wonderful ambassador. Well, Bye John. Stay in touch.”
Bit it did not quite turn out that clean. The confirmation process got dragged out. Some Republicans even began to waver and the administration was forced to look as though they really wanted him confirmed. If Bush let Bolton swing in the wind at the very moment he needed the kind of loyalty he had showed them then he would leave angry. Really angry. And angry ex-officials write angry books. So Bush had to spend some capital, and investment in silence.
But Bolton took a real beating. I have no idea if he is going to get confirmed or not. But if he doesn’t he will have a lot of time to think about how he got returned to the private sector. He might start to wonder if the administration he served set him up for all this misery. He might wonder if all those stories about him being a hotheaded crazy guy were planted in case he later began talking out of school. “Oh, that’s just John,” White House spin masters will whisper to reporters. “You know how John can be.” (Accompanied by crazy finger circling by side of spin master’s head.)
But who knows what an angry ex-official might say if ever put under oath. Could John Bolton could become George Bush’s very own Sammy “The Bull” Gravano.
Sammy had “anger management” problems too.
And that’s the answer to the question, “Why Bolton?” That’s the back-story.
By Stephen Pizzo
Raconteur at Large