Donald Trump’s first choice for White House national security adviser – a critically important and highly influential position – was Michael Flynn. The former foreign agent lasted a few weeks before resigning in disgrace and is currently awaiting sentencing following felony convictions.
The president’s second choice was Retired Navy Vice Adm. Robert Harward, who was offered the job soon after Flynn’s departure, but he turned Trump down. The job instead eventually went to Gen. H.R. McMaster, who managed to stay at the post for a year before Trump showed him the door.
John Bolton lasted a year and a half before the president ousted him, too.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he asked Bolton to resign after he “disagreed with many of his suggestions.”
“I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning,” Trump said on Twitter.
This doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone. It was just last week that we talked about the series of reports going back months about the growing distance between Trump and Bolton. At times, that distance was literal: when the president traveled to the Korean peninsula in June, and entered North Korea, he brought with him family members and a Fox News host, but not his top aide on matters of national security.
The New York Times reported in May that Trump and Bolton “have never clicked personally,” and there’s never been the kind of “chemistry” the president considers important.
It recently reached the point at which Trump administration officials rebuffed Bolton’s requests for materials he needed to do his job, reinforcing concerns about the staggering dysfunction inside this White House.
Stepping back, though, the question isn’t why the president fired yet another national security adviser; the question is why in the world Trump thought Bolton was a good choice in the first place.
Oddly enough, that apparently proved to be an inadequate qualification, and Trump eventually discovered that he didn’t actually agree with Bolton’s national security perspective and had no use for his advice.
As regular readers know, the dynamic couldn’t have been simpler: non-interventionist presidents shouldn’t hire warmongers to guide the White House on matters of national security.
If you never saw a Trump stump speech before the election, you may not appreciate just how much the Republican enjoys reading – indeed, performing – Al Wilson’s “The Snake” parable. The story is simple: a “tender woman” rescues a “vicious snake,” who repays her generosity by biting her.
When the dying woman asks why, the snake explains with a grin, “Oh shut up, silly woman. You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.”
In this case, a president rescued a far-right foreign policy hawk, who repaid his generosity by encouraging him to start wars. Trump wasn’t persuaded, but the silly president knew damn well his aide was a hawk before he took him in.