The other night on The Daily Show Jon Stewart interviewed former Ambassador John Bolton in a very revealing 9 minutes. It’s really worth the time to download.
While there is a lot to talk about here, and I hope others add to this, I want to start with one of the central tenets of Bolton’s philosophy outlined in this show. He believes that the Executive Branch needs to be filled with ideological twins of whoever is holding the office. By his rationale, “The point of electing the president as head of the Executive Branch is to give the people the chance to to dictate the direction the entire Executive Branch is headed.”
While this is a wonderfully phrased response, what he actually means and what the question really amounts to is “do you believe that the purpose of the Executive Branch is to lead the people in an ideological driven direction or should it be led in a direction that is best for the nation regardless of ideology. By Bolton’s logic any president can and should lead the country in the ideological direction that he has been elected to convey, but the way I see it, is that the President is in charge of the nation, both supporters and dissenters, and subsequently must do his best to lead the country towards to common good, not the ideological good.
Stewart does a wonderful job saying that Lincoln surrounded himself with people who passionately disagreed with his policies and Bolton is wrong to say that it is untrue. Read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Book, Team of Rivals. Surrounding oneself with people who echo your beliefs leads to a) incompetence (see Michael “Brownie” Brown), b) people who represent organizations they disapprove of (Bolton) or c) both (Gonzales). Stewart is absolutely right that it is like naming Captain Ahab the head of the Save the Whales Club. Nothing gets done for the common good.
I hope you enjoy this debate. Two different sets of ideals being articulated, and please comment on what I haven’t mentioned.