John Bolton or Michael Bolton? Which would be worse?

Maybe I’m the only one who finds my title to this entry funny, but man…talk about deciding between the frying pan and the fire!

Bush went ahead, as expected, and appointed John Bolton as ambassador to the UN. I had what I think was an epiphany today. I’ve been wondering why in the world Bush would pick someone like Bolton in the first place. There’s got to be other people who could do what Bush wants at the UN, without being so overwhelmingly divisive. But then, it hit me: if Bolton is the man slugging it out about UN reform, Bush can actually come out sounding like a moderate in the discussion. He can get changes at the UN that he wants, without looking like the thug.

I think Bolton might be the bad cop to Bush’s good cop. Not that I’m happy about any of this, but at least I feel better having a reason for it. I may not agree with Bush, but I don’t think he’s stupid, and this one hadn’t made sense to me until today.

(PS. I’m doing better, personally, but just don’t feel up to blogging about my internal churnings. So, why not go to safe topics, like politics?) :^)

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5 thoughts on “John Bolton or Michael Bolton? Which would be worse?

  1. You’ve hit explicitly on one, and implicitly on another of the key elements of the Republican’s method.The first is to play what is meant to look like “good cop – bad cop” but do it in a way that is really “bad cop – worse cop”. The way this works is that the Republicans and their lock-step allies in the media propose outrageously right wing things and then the office holders come in and split the difference. Given the superficial level of engagement of most Americans, this looks like compromise.What is interesting is that this even happens within the Bush administration. Dick Cheney frequently says silly (“last throes” “clear connections to al-Qaida”) things, which both appeal to the raw meat eating conservatives and move the discussion to the right. Then the President can come in and say something only slightly less silly and sound moderate. So you’ve nailed them.The other element of the Republican’s technique which you alluded to is false equivalence. The method here is to assert that if the Democrats ever used a particular approach or violated a particular standard to even the smallest degree, then the Republicans are now free to violate the same standards and employ the same practices to the greatest degree imaginable.This is the case with the two Boltons: Since Bill Clinton invited Michael Bolton to sing at one the parties for his second inauguration, President Bush is justified in appointing John Bolton – QED.

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  2. The biggest reason I dread political discussions is that, especially since the 2000 elections, most opinions are based not so much on actual events, policies, platforms, or facts as they are on the like or dislike of certain persons. Why focus on Republicans? Democrats are just as dishonest, manipulative, and “Political”, just as willing to do cut corners and abuse the system to get what they want – or prevent the other side getting what they want. The entire political structure is just as much in need of redemption as the rest of this society.The tactics on both sides of the Bolton – and now Judge Roberts – nomination process are about as mature and dignified as a grade school playground.As Christians I think we can do better than come down on one side or the other.

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  3. Walt E’s comment is a concrete example of my second point.And as Christians, we can surely do better than “a pox on both your houses”. We can and must be able to distinguish matters of emphasis and degree, and use this in our judgement of policies, parties and leaders.

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  4. Has anyone read “God’s Politics” by Jim Wallis? Someone suggested Mr. Wallis as a “sage” of our time and I’m wondering if it’s worth my time to read his book.

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  5. We’ve been reading and discussing ‘God’s Politics’ in the Young Adult Sunday School. I think we’re a little over halfway through. Naturally, please don’t ascribe my opinions to anyone else in our class…I have a lot of respect for Jim Wallis. I find myself agreeing with him often, although certainly not always. More importantly, he’s really lived what he believes for many years.I like that he takes pains to go beyond protesting policies he doesn’t like and move on to proposing possible solutions. It’s easy to protest a war, for instance, but much harder to suggest reasonable and realistic alternative routes out of the conflict.On the minus side, I’ve found him to be excessively wordy and to repeat himself more than I’d like. I think the 400+ pages could probably be condensed to around half that. My personal take is that the book is a compilation of previous articles, etc. (which of course reuse illustrations and such) loosely edited into chapters of a book. But good editors are few and far between, and thus expensive (and I doubt Harpers expected this to be the runaway bestseller it turned into).He also seems to confuse (in language if not in his mind) conservatism with the neo-conservative movement currently running the Republican party. He seems to use both terms interchangeably, which irks me a bit, since I (and many others smarter than me) can find little in common between neo-conservatism and historical conservative ideals. I’m not sure where I am anymore – I claim ‘moderate’ out of confusion if nothing else. But apparently ideas I always thought were conservative are now ‘paleo-conservative’ and no longer mainstream.But overall, those are pretty minor complaints, and I’d say the book is worth reading. I’m interested to see what he has to say about government efforts to reduce poverty.Aaron

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