The Slatest

Democrats Should Feel Free to Say It’s Great That John Bolton Is Gone

John Bolton adjusts his glasses.
National Security Adviser John Bolton in Minsk, Belarus, on Aug. 29. Sergei Gapon/Getty Images

John Bolton is a dangerous war lover who loves war so much that he couldn’t even get confirmed by the Senate in 2005, when love of war was all the rage in American politics. Bolton’s extremely well-known ideology either wasn’t known, or didn’t matter enough, to President Donald Trump, who hired him to serve as national security adviser in 2018 because he liked how Bolton sounded on the television set. After a predictable year and a half of Bolton being frustrated that the president, for whatever reasons, hadn’t carpet-bombed Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela, it was the president’s consideration of having the Taliban over for dinner and drinks that reportedly severed the relationship for good. Bolton either resigned or got fired Tuesday morning.

Washington can and will focus for days on litigating that question of who called off the relationship. The important thing, though, is that John Bolton, whose proximity to the president’s ear made the world a more dangerous place, is gone.

Democrats, however, can’t celebrate that Bolton is gone, because that would be applying a positive spin to a development at the White House. So in the immediate hours after Bolton’s firing/resignation numerous Democrats issued statements decrying the “chaos” at the White House when simple statements of confetti emoji would have sufficed.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, issued the following statement: “Today’s action by the president is just the latest example of his government-by-chaos approach and his rudderless national security policy. When Ambassador Bolton’s extreme views aren’t enough for you, the United States is headed for even more chaotic times.”

Perhaps, though, “steady” and “stable” leadership is overrated when that steadiness and stability are dedicated toward regime change across the globe. A “rudderless,” unfocused, scatterbrained approach toward foreign policy that confuses everyone but doesn’t do irreparable kinetic damage to every country that looks crosswise at us might be the more preferable option as we wait out the remainder of Trump’s presidency, for however long that might be.

Delighting in Bolton’s departure does not mean praising some shrewd instance of leadership from the president—especially as we don’t know that Trump fired him in the first place. It’s enough of a black mark on Trump for hiring Bolton because he liked watching his mustache flap on Fox News, without bothering to recognize that they might spent the next indefinite amount of time disagreeing over major foreign policy decisions. You don’t have to give Trump a hearty slap on the back to express relief that the mistake has been corrected, and Democrats should feel comfortable celebrating Bolton’s absence from an official position of power in the United States government.