John Bolton in 2016?

John Bolton flirted with running in 2012 if no one was sufficiently hawkish for him, but he relented and eventually endorsed Romney. Now he is considering running in 2016. I tend to agree with Larison that this is probably good news for non-interventionists. Bolton is a near caricature of the hysterical hawk, and will hopefully help make hyper-hawkishness look silly. He may also take a few votes from the other hawks who are less single issue (Santorum, Rubio). There is a risk that he will drive the other hawks in the race in his direction rhetorically, but it’s also possible that he might poison that space and make the others less likely to want to join him.

Those are my practical considerations. More viscerally I hope he runs because I think it is useful when people run from outside the normal path. If everyone who runs has to be a Governor or a Senator then that narrows the field to a group that is already too politically compromised to be of much use. People who are concerned with opposing the Establishment should encourage these sort of Quixotic campaigns by non-traditional candidates. A hyper-interventionist like Bolton might open up space for a non-traditional non-interventionist. As of now, I don’t see any non-interventionists considering a run. (I don’t consider Rand Paul ideal on foreign policy.) If we are going to be represented it will likely be by a non-traditional candidate so it doesn’t do non-interventionists any good to mock Bolton on the grounds that he is non-traditional.

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16 thoughts on “John Bolton in 2016?

  1. C Bowen/Hawthorne

    Bolton, like Cheney, is a radical on social issues (pro-gay marriage, gays in the military, women-on-the-front-lines) and his campaign would be hysterical, like a paleo caricature of the neocons.

  2. Feltan

    I wouldn’t mock Bolton because he is a non-traditional candidate. I would mock him because he represents many things that I loathe about Washington, D.C.


  3. Weaver

    Imagine how things would have been had Gore won in 2000…

    The Iraq War would be the fault of the Democrats. The Neocons likely would have joined the Democratic Party as… Neoliberals?

    Anyway a Bolten candidacy might be nice. A Republican however might well win. Imagine a Bolten presidency!

  4. Weaver

    I can see “moderates” promoting him as a “moderate” who can unite Democrats and Republicans.

  5. Kirt Higdon

    I’m not sure there would have been an Iraq war if Gore had won in 2000. He didn’t have Bush’s “daddy issues” and was less subject to neo-con influence. A Bolton presidency would be a nightmare, but I think it will remain safely in the realm of imagination, not reality.

  6. RedPhillips Post author

    To clarify, I take for granted that Bolton has no chance of winning the nomination, so by hoping he runs I don’t think I’m risking an actual Bolton Presidency. My point is that we shouldn’t be critical of Bolton because he has never won elective office and would not be coming from a traditional path. I think we need more candidates like that to loosen up the system for a non-traditional path non-interventionist.

    I made the same point when I hoped Kucinich would run. It is possible that a Kucinich on the left frees up space for a Paul on the right. And when Nader was considering in ’08. A third party Nader on the left frees up space for a third party Baldwin on the right. We need to send the message that you don’t have to be a Governor or a Senator who graduated from Harvard or Yale to seriously run for President.

  7. Kirt Higdon

    I don’t think I’m getting this “frees up space” concept. When is the last presidential election in the US where there were potent challenges to the duopoly from both the right and the left?

  8. Weaver

    Kirt, Gore’s VP was a hawk. And yea a Bolten presidency would be a nightmare only slightly better than a McCain presidency.

  9. Sean Scallon

    June 26, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Que up the next Republican demolition derby primary season for President. Hucksters, charlatans and the hopeless step right up to run for President, even if you haven’t run so much as a student council meeting. At best you’ll be in the Oval Office and at worst, you’ll have your own talk radio show! And when its over please greet your GOP nominee Chris Christie because while you all were the corner of the arena fighting over South Carolina, Christie carried Illinois, New York, New Jersey, California and Florida on his way to the nomination.

    It isn’t just Bolton. There are many just as enamored over Ben Carson too. This is going to be a hoot.

  10. James

    I think Sean has it about right. Look at the potential field of Republican candidates. What a bunch of lightweights and dorks. I like Rand Paul to some degree, but I just can’t see him packing much of punch against the Clinton machine or anyone else for that matter. I think we need to start getting realistic about where the Republican Party is today, and about where the Conservative movement is today. Both are dead, effectively. No political party is going to save the country, and the Conservative moment came to an end during the Bush II presidency. Its time for a complete rethink.

  11. RedPhillips

    “I don’t think I’m getting this “frees up space” concept.”

    Kirt, my point is that we need to encourage the expansion of the field to include potential candidates who are not either a Governor or a Senator (or a Rep. if we stretch) who preferably graduated from Harvard or Yale. That narrow set of qualifications clearly serves the interests of the Elite and the Establishment so we shouldn’t cater to it. So let’s not criticize Bolton for his lack of traditional qualifications. That plays into the hands of the Powers That Be. Let’s criticize him based on his silly policy positions.

    “When is the last presidential election in the US where there were potent challenges to the duopoly from both the right and the left?”

    Exactly my point! See above.

  12. RedPhillips

    Sean, apart from the merits of Bolton, which are nil, I take it you don’t agree with my larger point. See my response to Kirt above for additional explanation.

    I get your point about a divided primary, but I’m not sure what can be done about that. Your desire for a concensus candidate for the right seems to hope for a mechanism that doesn’t exist. There is no group of individuals or any institution that can declare someone the concensus candidate and clear the field. Actually the “early money” can do that to some degree but that generally winnows the mainstream candidates, not the rightist candidates who don’t get the early money anyway. There is a lot of ego and other considerations that go into deciding to run for President, so a lot of people are going to do what they are going to do anyway.

    And even if there was a way to determine a consensus rightist candidate, I’m not sure we would like the results. That candidate would almost certainly be a three-legs-of-the-stooler who we would not be happy with on foreign policy. There is a possibility that Rand Paul could arrive as a concensus candidate that would mostly satisfy all factions, but I doubt it.

    How has this worked out in the past? In ’96 Phil Graham was supposed to be the concensus right-wing candidate and he was knocked off early by Pat Buchanan and Alan Keyes (both non-traditionals). Bush II was the closest thing to a concensus Establishment and conservative candidate we have had in recent memory. There was an active field clearing effort for him, and we know how that worked out. Romney was the closest thing to a concensus rightist candidate in 2008 against McCain, and that made it all the more difficult to portray him as the candidate of the Establishment in 2012.

    What Governor or Senator is there that we could enthusiastically support? What non-interventionist has even been mentioned? We are likely to go completely unrepresented in this primary unless you count Rand. We need a non-traditional candidate to represent us because as things stand now, that’s about all we got.

    For that matter, we need to start stirring the pot to gin up some interest in potential non-interventionist candidates because as of now it’s a wasteland.

  13. RedPhillips

    BTW, I seriously doubt that Chris Christie will be the nominee. He has alienated the base too much on guns and with his shameless nut hugging of Obama.

    A Christie nomination would be the best thing that ever happened to the Constitution Party.

  14. Sean Scallon

    You make some good points Red but primary process with well over 10 candidates (as the GOP has had since 1996) is untenable. Many will be saying the same things. Can you imagine Walker and Ryan running against each other from the same state? What possible differences are there between them other than simple ambition? Jokers like Bolton and Carson only make it harder for those candidates who represent real ideas and real factions in the party from making their case. If this happens again, don’t get angry is someone like Christie or Rubio wins. As I said, there’s a way to win the nomination which doesn’t involve campaigning in Iowa, South Carolina or even Nevada. Having lots of candidates, running to their Right will only make it easier.

  15. roho

    Bolton is a Nutjob Neocon in the tradition of Paul Wolfowitz and Bill Krystol.

    Judge Napolitano & Lou Dobbs for outsiders.

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