Robert Costa reports that John Bolton really is preparing for a possible presidential campaign. He quotes Bolton’s explanation:
“After that, I sat back and thought that if I had the chance, I had to do something more for my party and my country than idly watching as the debate on foreign policy and America’s role in the world devolves into these bumper-sticker slogans, or veers toward the isolationist undercurrent that’s growing,” he continues. “That means forming a political-action committee and a super PAC, hitting the road and speaking out, and looking into my own campaign, and I’m doing all of that.”
A Bolton candidacy would make less sense than Giuliani’s, and it would be less successful, but in its sheer absurdity it could have a salutary effect on the GOP. Running primarily as a national security hawk in 2008 was already a bad gamble, and doing so eight years later would be an almost inexplicable waste of effort. The general public is much less sympathetic to Bolton’s views now, and Republicans are increasingly skeptical of many of them, so there are probably no voters for Bolton. Even so, it could have some unintended positive effects. As a representative of an unreconstructed hard-line Republican foreign policy and as a more or less one-issue candidate, Bolton’s run would reveal how uninterested most Republican voters are in his preferred policies. His presence in the field might even force other hawks to distance themselves from some of his positions. If he gets any support, it would come at the expense of other hawkish candidates, and he would serve as a perfect foil for non-interventionist and realist arguments in the debates. Few candidates can convey how cut off from the rest of the country the GOP has become as well as Bolton could, and so it might be good for Republicans to be confronted with that.