Who is John Bolton? (Don’t Shrug)
Conservatives and Tea Party folk know what kind of President they want. One who will balance the budget, cut taxes and spending, and stop government interference in their lives and in the economy, at home — and who will conduct a consistently self-defense-oriented foreign policy abroad.
But it’s sometimes hard to figure out which candidate most reflects one’s values. Just as some potential candidates wait too long to announce their candidacy, others allow their stands on specific issues to remain mysterious for too long.
Former UN Ambassador John Bolton, 62, might fall into both categories. He still has not officially announced that he will run. And until recently many of his views were unstated.
Sure, we know plenty about Bolton’s foreign policy, but where does he stand on economic and social issues?
WILL BOLTON RUN AND IS HE VIABLE?
Let’s answer some questions about John Bolton. First, is he running for President? And will he be a serious candidate or a vanity candidate? Can he win the general election?
According to National Review Online’s Robert Costa, “If John Bolton runs for President — and he very well might — he will run to win.” Bolton says he is “tanned, rested and ready to govern,” and that he can handle the long campaign trail: “The handshaking at the plant gate at eight in the morning? I would enjoy that.” Bolton says he will make a decision by Labor Day.
He’s already prepared a campaign strategy. As a late entry into the race he won’t waste time. He will focus on New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and Nevada as his path to the nomination, skipping Iowa due to the time it would take to build a base in its 99 counties—and due to his stand against ethanol subsidies.
I believe he will definitely run. But can Bolton win in the general election against President Obama?
Many analysts say unless the economy rebounds significantly before November 2012, any qualified Republican has a chance. Bolton is certainly qualified. Besides UN ambassador, he’s been an Assistant Secretary of State, and an Assistant Attorney General of the United States.
Bolton thinks competency and leadership will be a major factor in winning the Republican primaries and he is therefore confident of his chances. “I have more experience in the executive branch of the federal government,” he says, than any other candidate now running or expected to run.
I believe Bolton can be a strong and viable candidate.
So where does he stand on issues, and is he the candidate conservatives and tea partiers are looking for?
After digging around I have gathered numerous quotations that clearly indicate his positions.
John Bolton says, “Individual liberty is the whole purpose of political life.” This is in line with the principles proclaimed by the Founding Fathers and expressed in the Declaration and the Constitution. This is a basis of conservative and libertarian political philosophy.
As a student in 1964, Bolton campaigned for Barry Goldwater, the icon of right-wing politics since the mid-20th century. Today, Bolton still says, “I am a Goldwater conservative.”
Goldwater stated his philosophy this way: “I have little interest in streamlining government or making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them.”
BOLTON ON SOCIAL ISSUES
Yet unlike his most prominent successor, Ronald Reagan, Goldwater was not a social conservative. This may provide a clue to Bolton’s views. For example, Goldwater said, regarding the rights of gays to serve in the armed forces: “You don’t have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight.”[
Similarly, Bolton supports the repeal of the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” regulations that have excluded avowed homosexuals from military service. His reason? “Because I don’t think there’s any answer to the question, Why shouldn’t gay and lesbian Americans be able to serve their country in the military. I don’t think there’s any other answer that’s acceptable, other than repealing it.”
Regarding abortion, Bolton says, “I think that Ronald Reagan had it right, being against abortion except in certain limited, defined circumstances.” He says, “As a form of birth control, it’s unacceptable.”
On gay marriage, he says, “I think [same-sex marriage] is something that in society today, we ought to be able to live with,” he says. “I don’t, however, think this is a matter to be adjudicated in federal courts. It’s an issue that ought to be primarily decided at the state level.”
BOLTON ON ECONOMIC ISSUES AND HEALTH CARE REFORM
“I do have a very free-market orientation in domestic policy,” says Bolton. “I think that the level of federal spending, taxation, and regulation is way too high,” Bolton says. “It got way too high before the Obama administration. I think that our objective should be lower taxes and lower federal spending.” He adds, “Much of the spending should be decided at the state and local levels. So I would push the federal share of the economy much lower than it was even at the beginning of the Bush administration. My philosophy is smaller government is better government, and government that is closer to the people is best of all.”
Bolton supports the Paul Ryan budget as a starting point for economic reform:
“I think the way the House Republicans have started off with the Ryan budget, aiming to get federal expenditures back to their 2008 levels as the first step is exactly the right way to go. I think there’s more to do there. I think it’s critical that we tackle entitlement programs, Medicare and Medicaid, including social security.”
Bolton says, “I wish I were a member of the House so I could vote to repeal” Obama’s health-care reforms. He would also like to undo the president’s financial-reform regulations, saying they should have focused instead on privatizing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
“The objective overall should be a much smaller government, less federal spending, less taxation, and less regulation.” He approves of the Tea Party movement because “it has brought attention back to spending and taxation.”
BOLTON ON FOREIGN POLICY
“If I had to turn my own foreign policy into a bumper sticker, it would be ‘pro-American.’”
On the Daily Show in 2009, Bolton told Jon Stewart, “There’s not that much difference between me and the people who want a world where no government has nuclear weapons. I only want one government to have nuclear weapons.”
Bolton says, “I think in the last two years, President Obama has deliberately, consciously downplayed the threats that the United States faces in the world.” Bolton opposes any large cuts to the defense budget.
Bolton emphasizes that his top goal is to “pursue our interests.” He does not believe America’s interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya ought to involve establishing democracies in those countries.“I think our main interest has to be to defeat our enemies, and I have very little faith in our ability to create out of whole cloth democratic institutions.”.
In Afghanistan, he says,“What I am in favor of is destroying the Taliban and al-Qaeda’s capability to wage war. Doing that does not require creating a Jeffersonian, democratic regime in Kabul and eliminating corruption countrywide, because we are not going to do either of those two things. It means defeating the enemy.
“People don’t like to talk about victory and defeat anymore. But if you can’t talk about that, then you can’t define why we are there. That’s not to say that it’s going to happen tomorrow; it’s going to take a long time. But that has to remain the objective. And that, I think, is the strategic posture around which Republicans can and should unite.”
What should we leave behind in Afghanistan? “A pro-American government, with Taliban and al-Qaeda eliminated. If it were a democratic government in Afghanistan, I’d say ‘great.’ And if it were a non-democratic government, I’d say ‘great.’”
And my evaluation is: John Bolton is a candidate conservatives, libertarians, Tea Party people and the average American can and should support.