John Bolton on the Daily Show

Anybody else catch this last night? I really like it when conservatives go on the show. I think Jon Stewart does an admirable job of interviewing those with an opposing point of view without getting abrasive and staying (relatively) respectful. Bolton was our erstwhile ambassador to the UN, an organization that he had little respect for. During his time in the UN, he did some things right and some things wrong but I could never fully fathom the sheer gall required to make him our ambassador to the world in an organization which he famously said could lose its top ten stories without anyone noticing. While I agree that the United Nations is grossly inefficient and frequently accomplishes nothing, I am a strong believer in its potential for good and I don’t thing he had the right attitude to be our player there. He tended to personify the American arrogance that other countries perceive and get rubbed the wrong way by.

Last night he handled Stewart’s ribbing in fairly good humor, although he disagreed on just about every point. Stewart wanted to get into the Gonzalez kerflaffle, pointing out the parallels with Bolton’s ousting but fittingly for a diplomat, Bolton failed to engage. He stuck to his idea (and I’m paraphrasing here) that it is the duty of the President to fill as many positions as possible with like-minded people. Not because they are personal supporters, per se, but because they would naturally be ideological boosters and further the administration’s point of view. He further pointed out that transparency in government is only good up to a point, and that there has to be some freedom for the administration to discuss and decide policy without having to worry about public accountability.

I don’t hate Bolton, although I think he was the wrong man for the job, but I just can’t get behind any of the points he was making here. The whole point of democratic governance is to allow disagreement. Bolton seemed to be saying that the American people made their choice when they elected W. and nobody has any further say in his actions or the policies of his administration. He went on to defend this as the very model of democratic theory. To my mind it couldn’t be further from it.

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