John Bolton comes to town

Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton appeared at a special event held by our local Minnesota chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition at the Parker Rosen law firm in downtown Minneapolis last night. Announced 48 hours in advance of his appearance, the event was the most successful in the history of our small chapter. Ambassador Bolton drew a crowd to excess capacity. Included among the dignitaries who welcomed him were former Minnesota Senators Rudy Boschwitz and Norm Coleman, as well as Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Zellers. In the photo at the left Minnesota GOP deputy chair Kelly Fenton and event co-host Barbara Malzacher stand for a photo with Ambassador Bolton after his remarks. Chapter president Mark Miller deserves recognition in this context for having worked selflessly over the past several years to build up a chapter — here in Minnesota we are a minority of a minority — that could host an event like last night’s. It was great.

In this crowd, John Bolton is something of a rock star. We remember his successful work in the administration of the first President Bush to overturn the UN’s vile “Zionism is a form of racism” resolution. (See pages 40-43 of his memoir, Surrender Is Not an Option.) We remember the Democrats’ remorseless campaign of defamation against him to prevent his confirmation as our ambassador to the United Nations upon his appointment by the second President Bush. (I wrote about the role of the New York Times in this campaign at the time in “Déjà vu, all over again.”) We remember his stalwart representation of the United States at the United Nations following his recess appointment by the second President Bush. We love this guy.

The occasion of Ambassador Bolton’s appearance was the Minnesota caucuses that take place tonight; Bolton is supporting Mitt Romney and spoke on his behalf last night. He invoked his solid conservative credentials, going back to his leafleting at age 15 for Barry Goldwater in 1964, to vouch for Romney’s conservatism. I was struck most of all by the seriousness of his approach to the question.

He spoke at length about the peril in which President Obama’s diplomacy of weakness has placed us in the Middle East, with special reference to the 19 Americans now held for trial in Egypt and, of course, Iran. Bolton said we were close to a hostage situation with respect to the Americans held in Egypt. He stated that he thought Iran could produce a nuclear weapon before the end of the year and that the Obama administration was applying pressure mercilessly to Israel to prevent military action against Iran. Those of us who came in with worries on our mind left with a few we hadn’t come in with by the time he was done. It was a powerful, powerful presentation.

He took several questions from the audience, including two along the lines of “Why not Newt?” In his answers he distinguished between executive and legislative abilities. In selecting a candidate and electing a president, he said, you want someone who can move “from A to B” when he gets “behind the big desk.” He thought that Romney’s executive abilities — here he cited the Utah Olympics — set him apart from the rest of the field.

Bolton is a man who commanded the respect and elicited the warmth of this crowd, even those who did not necessarily or entirely agree with him on Romney. He is by far the most powerful advocate of Romney whom I have heard this campaign season and he is, in any event, a great American who deserves the attention of his fellow conservatives and fellow Republicans.