Robert Novak

 While Bolton more accurately reflects the administration's mindset than Danforth, he has not approved of every administration policy. What is inconceivable, however, is that he would go off on his own as Danforth did.

 After Bolton's nomination, commentators incorrectly identified him as a "neo-conservative." If a neo-conservative (in Irving Kristol's phrase) is "a liberal mugged by reality," Bolton does not qualify. He came to Washington 31 years ago, as an intern for Vice President Spiro T. Agnew out of Yale Law School (where he was a protege of Alexander Bickel). He was hired by conservative Agnew aide David Keene, who became Bolton's friend and longtime ACU chairman.

 Bolton set himself apart from other interns in a legendary episode when White House aide John Ehrlichman gave a farewell speech urging interns to work on the 1972 re-election campaign. Bolton raised his hand and asked: "How can I work for Nixon's election when I'm not even sure I'll vote for him?"

 If being a neo-conservative means embracing a Wilsonian vision of bringing democracy to the world, Bolton is surely not one. He may be the last important foe of nation-building inside the administration and would like to get out of Iraq quickly.

 What makes Bolton so unpopular with the Foreign Service is that he agrees with his diplomatic mentor, James A. Baker III, that the secretary of state ought to represent the president in the State Department rather than represent the State Department in the White House. His long government experience and excellent performance the past four years in dealing with nuclear proliferation from North Korea to Iran means nothing to the liberal establishment, which frets about his presence on the ACU dais.

Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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