"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Noonan on Bolton and Being Real

I praised earnestness in my last post. Peggy Noonan channeled my thoughts and defended John Bolton for skipping the niceties when p***ed off.

In the process, she mentions some interesting stories about political figures who may have stepped over comfort zone lines in the past:

Bad temper is a bad thing, but in government it's a flaw with a long provenance. Bob Dole once slammed a phone down so hard it is said to have splintered. Bill Clinton, George Stephanopoulos tells us, used to go into "purple rages." There is a past and possibly future presidential candidate who would regularly phone one of his staffers at home and ream that person out by screaming base obscenities. (I was impressed to learn the staffer felt free to respond in kind, and did.)

Harry S. Truman, as president, once threatened in writing to kick the testicles of a journalist (a music reviewer who had been nasty about the talents of Truman's daughter). Lyndon Johnson would physically crowd people and squeeze their arms painfully as he tried to get them to do what he wanted; in his case arm-twisting was really arm-twisting. Richard Nixon is said to have snapped to an aide who came to him with some issue, "You must have me confused with somebody who gives a sh--." He also physically pushed and humiliated his press secretary, Ron Zeigler.

4 comments:

Tlaloc said...

None of the people mentioned were filling diplomatic posts to the best of my recollection.

If Bolton was being given a cabinet post to head the DoE that'd be one thing. Probably a bad idea but not an undefensibly stupid one. Nominating him to be a diplomat on the other hand is just that: outrageously inappropriate.

Greg said...

Tlaloc, you do make an interesting point. However, are you saying that you wouldn't support Bill Clinton to take the UN position Bolton's up for?

Also, the main point Noonan's making is that most of those people were considered "diplomatic" in public. She's saying that it's common for diplomats to treat their subordinates harshly.

chebht said...

I would be interested in seeing tlaloc's response to greg's comment about Bill Clinton.

Tlaloc said...

"Tlaloc, you do make an interesting point. However, are you saying that you wouldn't support Bill Clinton to take the UN position Bolton's up for?"

If it turned out that Clinton was notorious among his co-workers for being undiplomatic then yes he'd be a bad choice as a diplomat. Personally I always thought his faluts lay in being overly friendly, if you get my drift.


"Also, the main point Noonan's making is that most of those people were considered "diplomatic" in public. She's saying that it's common for diplomats to treat their subordinates harshly."

No she'd be saying that diplomatic appearing executives often treat their subordinates harshly, which may well be true. If she gave examples of half a dozen good diplomats who were also raving bastards to everyone around them then it'd be a much better analogy to Bolton.