A Historical Reminder: What the Jesse Helms/Pugnacious Nationalism Wing Produced in the Last Election


I don’t plan to write any more about the private issues of Mr. Bolton. As I have written, I am very uncomfortable with such an approach, but I think that those who are trying to white-wash his past need to know that there are others who have information that won’t be helpful. This should be a debate about his public “fitness” for the job — and on that front, he loses in the eyes of many.
But as a reminder to readers, TWN was the first to post the images above during the last election season. These mailers were sent by the Republican National Committee to church parishioners in West Virginia, Ohio, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, and other states. However, it took Ed Gillespie — then head of the RNC — more than two weeks to admit ‘ownership’ of the flyers.
They created quite a media stir that bobbed around for weeks, with John Edwards finally speaking to the grotesqueness of this type of politics from a Southern Baptist church pulpit one Sunday.
My sense is that John Bolton did not promulgate such flyers, but they did come from the wing of the Republican party that is most enthusiastic about his nomination to the U.N.
There are lines that are blurred too often between the public and the private, between secularism and faith, between appropriate media treatment of public personalities and irresponsible coverage.
I just want to acknowledge to readers that these lines are complex and complicated. TWN prefers the high road but wants to make sure people know that the lines that were crossed when John Bolton “stopped the vote count” in Florida in the 2000 election, and when he served as Jesse Helm’s PAC’s cost-free attorney, and when he overlooked the foreign financing and highly partisan activities of a non-profit, non-partisan institution he was running that was later stripped of its non-profit status. The biggest lines crossed were those of pounding the intelligence apparatus at the State Department to acquiesce to Bolton’s personal view of challenges facing the United States, thus distorting reality to fit one to which he was ideologically predisposed.
Lots of lines have been crossed. The media must do a better job, particularly if it keeps delving into the personal background of John Bolton as a way to validate his brand of high-handed, pugnacious, and mean-spirited nationalism. What has been done has been more white-wash than investigation, and that cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged.
Later I will be back with a statement as to what it is those of us concerned about American interests and standing in the world are concerned about.
— Steve Clemons