By Daniel Dunaief
What should the Republicans do about former National Security Adviser John Bolton? In this topsy-turvy battle in Washington, Bolton has become a lightning bolt with his claims about his recent boss, President Donald Trump (R).
So, the Republicans, particularly under Trump, have a playbook for dealing with disaffected former staffers. That’s not terribly surprising, given that the president’s previous job involved letting people know that, “You’re fired!” Here are my top 10 options for dealing with Bolton.
10. Pretend no one knew him and that he wasn’t significant. The president has used that approach with other people with varying levels of success. The problem is that there were far too many pictures and meetings. For crying out loud, the guy was the national security adviser. Disavowing any knowledge or contact with him strains the willing suspension of disbelief required for so many other excuses. Let’s pass on that one.
9. Claim he’s trying to make money on a book. That’s what some have suggested, ignoring that he might be trying to make money and be telling the truth.
8. Insist that the book is a national security threat. That’s a technique the president has said he’d use to keep everyone else from testifying during his hotly contested impeachment trial.
7. Suggest that Trump would “love” to have him testify, but that someone else — a lawyer, a member of the FBI or CIA, or someone in the shadows who the president and his staff feel has a valid argument — has suggested that his testifying would destroy the Constitution, ruin the presidency or alter the course of history in a negative way for everyone.
6. Create a new, outlandish and riveting conspiracy theory. Maybe he’s still John Bolton, but the Democrats, and in particular House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, got a hold of him and somehow figured out how to reprogram him. This is doubly delicious, like a cheeseburger with extra bacon, deep fried in lard, because it unites Bolton with Pelosi and suggests that he’s lying and has sold his soul to a lower form of political being.
5. Develop a diversion. (Don’t you love alliteration?) Come up with a Mideast peace plan, a Chinese trade policy, a cure for coronavirus or a way to provide energy that removes the hippy-dippy greenhouse gases and cools the Earth. The short attention spans will seize on this as the one and only part of the news that’s worth covering. Surely, with all the events of the world, the drama, the excitement and the immediate need to feed the news beast, there must be some way to send eyeballs elsewhere, turning Bolton into an afterthought.
4. Ban anyone with a bushy, white mustache from entering the Senate chamber. The Democrats and all their supporters picked on Bolton mercilessly when he became national security adviser, focusing on his facial hair. Surely it’s fair to suggest that this defining characteristic makes him untrustworthy?
3. Give him the wrong time and day to show up. When he doesn’t arrive, suggest that he must have had a change of heart and it’s time to move on with a process that has a predetermined ending anyway.
2. Someone to whom Bolton lied could claim that the former national security adviser didn’t always tell the truth, which would undermine anything Bolton claimed the president said.
1. Let him testify. Bolton was always part of a Republican plan anyway. Once Republicans allow him to come before the Senate, he can deny the “leaks,” undermining the credibility of the media and the Democrats. In return, he can get another position, like maybe an ambassadorship?