Joltin’ Bolton

I tend to be an early riser, and I hate wasting time in traffic. Combine these two facts, and you’ll see why it was typical that during my many years in Washington I would arrive at the office in the morning sometimes as early as 6:45 am. And invariably I would be the second person to arrive. Always there ahead of me was the person in the office right next door to mine: John Bolton.

Amidst all the commentary pro and con about Bolton over the last few days, there’s one detail about him that I haven’t seen anyone report. One of his biggest fans back in the Reagan Administration and subsequently was . . . James Baker III. Yes, the same James Baker that a lot of conservatives never trusted fully. And Bolton fully reciprocates the high regard. John was a useful source of background and insight for understanding Baker when I was writing my Reagan book.

To be sure, Baker came from the moderate Bush wing of the Republican party, but is a sensible and able fellow. He wasn’t the real problem in the Reagan White House (Darman, Deaver, and Gergen were the main leakers and backstabbers), and in fact Reagan was shrewd to choose Baker to be his chief of staff. A more important fact is that Baker, as secretary of state under President George H.W. Bush, was a throwback to old fashioned foreign policy realism. I suspect Bolton is more like Baker than he is like Michael Gerson or other international idealists around George W. Bush. I think he’s an excellent addition to the Trump team.