On the subject of loyalty, Hannah Arendt once wrote:
Total loyalty is possible only when fidelity is emptied of all concrete content, from which changes of mind might naturally arise.
John Bolton’s blind loyalty in the past and present to Jesse Helms, Dick Cheney, and to George Bush’s successful presidential race in the year 2000 was the type of total loyalty, devoid of content, that now makes it difficult for the White House to cut loose from his troubled campaign to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
If the White House, and particularly Dick Cheney, drop Bolton too easily, other zealots counting on total support from the White House will have to recalculate their affections. The White House does not really care much about the U.N. as an institution, but they do care about sending signals to their most loyal followers that the Bush-Cheney machine won’t totally stand behind their people.
It was an enormous miscalculation of Bush to nominate Bolton for the U.N. job because his background and profile completely offend the sensibilities of those who value principled and reasonable American leadership in the world. Republican internationalists do not like John Bolton, and when such matters as “serial abuse” and “loose cannon” behavior” are tossed into the mix, Republican Senators are being asked to choke down a candidate that is antithetical in the whole to their beliefs.
Bolton may go down, and as of now, it is looking ever more likely — but the battles ahead will still be fierce because Cheney believes that a loss on Bolton will empower an informal condominium of power between thoughtful, centrist Republicans and some Democrats that will begin to thwart the Bush-Cheney machine.
Cheney made an error over-reaching on Bolton, and if the White House is not careful with this fight and does not figure out a face-saving way to withdraw Bolton, the now fragile support for White House foreign policy initiatives among Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee may be dramatically broken.
It is increasingly hard to find people of the character and starch of a Carl Ford or Tom Hubbard — whose loyalty is clearly to the United States of America, to representative government, and to the vital system of checks and balances that keeps monarchial power from developing to undermine the Republic.
There are many who are loyal to high-minded principles, and who feel a patriotic duty to challenge the naturally expansive powers of the Presidency. Cheney and others are increasingly painting such independence as disloyal and treasonous.
That is why beating John Bolton is so vital. It is like Chris Nelson wrote so eloquently the other day — all about saving our democracy.
— Steve Clemons