John R. Bolton and the No Good, Very Bad Wannabe King

"The Room Where It Happened" is that Republicans are a bunch of brazen cowards.

America is an oligarchy organized by the hierarchy of the white supremacist patriarchy. Pancake Brain is a (free) newsletter dedicated to replacing the status quo with equitable public power. If you’re into that kind of thing, I hope you’ll subscribe and share. This project is based on my book, How to Start a Revolution: Young People and the Future of American Politics. I hope you’ll read (or listen to) it, if you haven’t yet.

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Dearest Pancake Brains,

This week, John R. Bolton released a book effectively declaring that Trump is unfit for office. “There really isn’t any guiding principle that I was able to discern other than what’s good for Donald Trump’s reelection,” the former national security advisor said on ABC News. Bolton provides insight gleaned from daily access to the Oval Office, and the fact that he is a person gifted with two seeing eyes and a pulse.

In the pages of The Room Where It Happened, Bolton provides firsthand witness account of the Ukraine matter that led to Trump’s impeachment, claiming that the President effectively used taxpayer money in an attempt to extract foreign election assistance for his 2020 campaign. Still, the most shocking revelation in the Bolton book is explicit admission of the extremity of Republican cowardice. (They all know this shit is fucked.)

Has there ever been a presidency like this?” former chief of staff John Kelly asks Bolton in The Room Where It Happened. “I assured him there had not,” Bolton tells his readers.

I would be a lot more impressed if Bolton had taken his writing in a more artistic direction, perhaps by fully embracing the fact that his most significant contribution to society is basically dystopia for babies. Boiled down to it’s fundamental essence, that exchange between John Bolton and John Kelly might read as follows:

I know this is wrong,” John told other John.

In his heart of hearts, John knew John was right.

“It is so wrong,” John said, and so, of course, the Johns did nothing.

Well, that is, until Bolton got a $2 million book deal to bravely reflect on such moments of dissonance months after the impeachment trial he refused to participate in.

The Trump administration’s response to Bolton’s book has been a spectacularly damning case-in-point. The Justice Department, once again bowing to the President’s personal vendettas, has sought to sue Bolton and block the book’s distribution. The administration’s strategy here appears to be squashing evidence that Trump is using the office of the presidency for personal gain by using the office of the presidency for personal gain. I never did learn how to play five-dimensional chess.

Donald Trump is ruling over American as a white supremacist authoritarian, and not even pretending otherwise, so it is particularly disturbing to learn there might be some evil he desperately does not want the public to see, considering the amount of evil that occurs in broad daylight.

What is it in the Bolton book that Trump is so afraid of?

In The Room Where It Happened, Bolton details a presidency defined by “obstruction of justice as a way of life” and a tendency to “give personal favors to dictators he liked.” He includes some fresh details, such as Trump pressuring President Xi to purchase American agricultural products as a means of boosting his re-election campaign, which at once begs the obvious, rhetorical question — Why did you need a $2 million book deal to stand up for basic principles of democracy, John? — while also, miraculously, managing to be insufficiently shocking to anyone who has been paying attention. And so, perhaps the thing the Trump camp finds most damning is not what Bolton is admitting to, but the conservative credentials of the man admitting it, and, more importantly, what he reveals about the nature of the party to which both are inextricably linked.

The clearest examples of this comes on page 489, where Bolton writes: “While liberals and Democrats focus on impeachment, conservatives and Republicans should worry about the removal of the political guardrail of Trump having to face reelection.”

No rational individual needs Bolton to tell them that Trump is ruling the country based on self-interest alone. White House security clearance is not required to review the President’s Twitter feed, though the gall to ignore it does seem to be correlated with Republican Party affiliation. If there is some great historical impact to be imparted by The Room Where It Happened, perhaps it will be the crisis of conscience that occurs for Lindsey Graham as he peruses a galley while tucked in a Snuggie, and even that will be too little, too late.

Bolton’s book is concrete evidence that Trump rules over the American people on an ethic of selfishness alone, but you knew that already. The true bombshell in The Room Where It Happened is explicit confirmation of the role of Trump’s accomplices, including, most prominently, it’s own author. In the end, The Room Where It Happened could have easily been a tweet sent several years ago. Too long, didn’t read: The Republican Party is run by a cabal of cowards who enable Trump’s reign of terror, as they whisper their dissent behind closed doors, and continue to use their considerable power to do so much less than nothing.

With earnest irreverence,