Washington whispers are morphing into a dull roar concerning the future of National Security Advisor John Bolton. Considered the administration adviser with the most hawkish tendencies, Bolton was dispatched to Mongolia while the president was having a Kodak moment with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un at the DMZ. But have no fear – Tucker Carlson was there. Yes, the Fox News prime time host was present and accounted for, while Bolton was not. And that odd juxtaposition is what’s fueling the talk of Bolton’s demise.
From the start, Mr. Bolton was an odd choice for the Trump administration. POTUS 45 has a long-held policy of staying out of foreign conflict, and Mr. Bolton has always displayed an itch to intervene. Just as bizarre was the placement of Carlson at the DMZ. The full-fledged member of the Swamp’s chattering class holds no water for Mr. Bolton and often talks of his distaste for all things neo-con in general and Bolton’s trigger-happy nature in specific. Mr. Bolton is one who always sees a role for the United States to play in any conflict, while Carlson does not.
President Trump recognizes this tendency by his national security advisor, commenting in the past that he often tempers Mr. Bolton. But the question front and center following the Trump-Un meeting optics is: Will Trump give Mr. Bolton the boot?
Admittedly, Trump’s get-together at the DMZ was spur of the moment, and Mr. Bolton’s meeting with Mongolian State Secretary Davaasuren Damdinsuren could have been planned. However, sometimes two and two don’t add up to four in Washington, and this could be one of those times. Still, there does seem to be an uneasiness between Mr. Bolton and his boss.
Naturally, the Twitter-verse is rife with speculation about Mr. Bolton’s possible demise. At the very least the former U.S. ambassador’s banishment to Mongolia has not gone unnoticed. However, some spotted a possible nexus between the two events. Canadian sociologist Julian Dierkes tweeted, “But note Mongolia’s potential role in engaging DPRK, making Bolton’s trip there more relevant to meeting with Kim than it might seem initially.”
Skunk at the Garden Party?
Another obvious reason for Bolton’s Mongolian assignment may have been Pyongyang’s outspoken distaste for him. In the past, the NK brain trust has referred to Bolton as “human scum.” NKNews.org cited a North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs person describing Bolton as a “war-fanatic,” while another asserted he is “ignorant,” and still another called the advisor “dim-sighted.”
Mr. Trump seems wise enough to recognize not only optics but also negative undercurrents that can develop when you have two folks with opposing views at the same dinner party. It can and often does make for a not-so-enjoyable evening, and perhaps that is exactly what Trump sought to avoid. At the very least, having Bolton at the DMZ might have put a kibosh on the happy moment.
The very lifeblood of the Swamp ecosystem is speculation. Often it is informed theory as administration leakers float different ideas to see how they will fly in the public square. As more and more Swampsters opine about Bolton getting the ax, the downstream current can grow into fast-moving rapids. And that could be where Mr. Bolton may soon find himself.
Although the president has demonstrated patience for those with whom he does not always agree, he is in the classic sense an executive who does not fear making hard and sometimes unpopular decisions. Whether he will give Mr. Bolton the heave-ho is anyone’s guess at this point. But, hey, it’s summer in the Swamp, and such conjecture at the very least keeps the current moving.
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