THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENED By JOHN BOLTON – Marilyn Armstrong

I expected it to be dull, but it wasn’t dull. I think I’d describe it as “dry.” Not unlike the material I wrote for many years.

I wasn’t going to read it, but I decided my curiosity was stronger than my desire to avoid reading a book about Trump by a Republican I basically don’t much like. Surprisingly, I didn’t find the book nearly as distasteful as I expected.

For one thing, although on most levels I completely disagree with everything Bolton has to say — personally and politically — I was surprised that the book was not intentionally divisive. He pretty much describes the facts as he perceived them coming from many years as a very hawkish Republican. I’m not hawkish and I’m not a Republican, but I realized for the first time in years it’s possible to read a book with which I disagree and still find interesting material and not feel personally offended. In 2020 in the U.S.A., that’s a big deal.

Bolton’s comments on Democrats are the usually stupid ones you hear from Republicans, but they aren’t offensive. Just dismissive and mostly wrong.

However, not everything he said was wrong. We are today seeing just how awful the original Bill Clinton NAFTA agreement was. It did exactly what we thought it would do. It stripped manufacturing out of the U.S. and created massive job losses. It greatly complicated freight and shipping on everything from underwear to trucks. We are paying a heavy price for that now. Having closed all our major industrial centers, you can’t rebuild them nearly as quickly as we abandoned them. It was a bad deal and I doubt anyone will argue the point now. All it took was one international calamity for us to discover how bad a deal it is to have all of your goods made in China and have to get them here by airplane. Maybe we’ll go back to steamships?

Other than that, the issue of war and reprisals came up often. It never seems to be of any importance to any president of either party how “incidents” begin or what we did versus what they did. We — as a people — know shockingly little about what’s really going on internationally. Not only does our government not tell us, but once the press gets hold of it, the various versions that come out are astoundingly different from each other. Fox just makes stuff up, but all the news purveyors sell their version of events. The stories may not be outright lies, but they also aren’t the truth. You have to read a lot of news to get a grip on what really happened. And even so, there’s more we don’t know no matter how much we read.

Overall, I agree that the impeachment was a farce.I thought it would be before it started. Both parties made it an exclusively party-driven event. Once the GOP announced they wouldn’t allow witnesses and wouldn’t listen to them even if they spoke, what was the point of continuing? Trump absolutely deserved to be impeached — the single thing  Bolton and I agree on. He felt there was nothing he could say that anyone would listen to and I believe he was right.

It’s not a great book, but it’s interesting and if you are a liberal Democrat, it probably won’t make you froth at the mouth. I have a feeling the true Trumpistas are more likely to find themselves frothing. Whatever he says about Democrats pales in comparison to what he says about Republicans and Trump.

Bolton isn’t exactly a convert to my politics, but he has come very far from Trumpism — and that’s a good thing.

FILE PHOTO: National Security Advisor John Bolton adjusts his glasses as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks while meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 2, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

Do I recommend it? If you have the time, it’s worth the effort. It’s interesting to get a different point of view. It’s also noteworthy recognizing Republicans aren’t the only party to have made a mess of our country. This disaster has been many years in the making. It didn’t all happen in 2016 and it won’t be over in four years, either.

We started in slavery and with the philosophy that “anyone could make it.”  This was never true. It was a lie when we wrote the Constitution and the years haven’t changed it. It will take a lot of work and a lot of  people working together to fix even a part of the disaster. I think it will take a lot longer than that to get it right, assuming we can remember after a year or so how bad it was in 2020.

We tend to have very short memories in this country and if we forget, decide it’s too much effort, the world will be no better in a decade than it is now — and that’s politically. In most other ways, it will be much worse.

We need to decide who we are, who we want to be, and how much effort we are willing to put into the struggle that is coming.



Categories: Book Review, Books, History, Politics

Tags: , , , , ,

26 replies

  1. Excellent review, Marilyn. Thanks for sharing… Times have always been troubling in the USA. As concerned citizens, we need to listen and learn.

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  2. Some of the best from you I’ve read so far. Maybe you should focus on writing about politics, or do it more often.

    Like

  3. Interesting commentary ! A good friend shared this a while back trying to give an opinion piece on how the current situation came to be .
    https://www.iredellfreenews.com/perspectives/2020/viewpoint-ending-our-dependence-on-china-for-cheap-drugs-and-medical-products-will-not-be-easy
    Not sure the link will work but was interesting.

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    • The article pretty much says what I said … but that’s what many of us said when that bill was being passed. I still don’t understand why it was passed and so thoroughly passed by both parties. Are we really such total sycophants to the wealthy?

      Yes, we are, and THAT is because of our laws pertaining to elections. He with the biggest donors usually wins. Not always, but most of the time. All the laws they have passed that supposedly limit the amounts someone can make to any campaign are offset by so piece of legislation that got left out of the law. Coincidentally by pure chance. If corporations could not hugely fund our elections … AND if our elections didn’t take up most of the time our elected officials are in office … a lot of other things would get fixed. If everyone didn’t kowtow to the NRA, we might pass sensible gun legislation. If big corporations didn’t have the financial clout to own their own senators and representatives, we might have laws which favored American workers, even if we had to pay them more. We might have real recycling plants, make our own appliances, underwear, clothing. Medication and protective gear. American cars could compete with foreign cars on a more level playing field.

      It’s always about money and in this case, it’s all about money and elections and the idiotic way we nominate and elect people. NO other country spends the kind of money — or takes as much of the public’s time and energy — to run elections as we do. We are an embarrassment internationally and much more so now than ever. They laughed at us when we were a newborn country, but that was because we were young and small. Now they laugh at us because we’ve forgotten who we are, what we supposed stand fo. We seem to have forgotten how to take care of our own people which is not only embarrassing, but it’s humiliating and shameful.

      Thank you for your comments. Please, keep commmenting!

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  4. An interesting post, Marilyn, as always. I think the bill passed by Bill Clinton was a disaster but sadly it does take a crisis often to realise how big a disaster a past event actually was. Financial recover from 2020 is going to take 5 to 10 years so there is lots of time for people to try to work together.

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    • I was sure from the beginning it was going to be a disaster. It made too many assumptions that the world was like would remain the same. Forever. Of course nothing remains the same forever and Clinton, who was a Rhodes Scholar, certainly knew that. As did most of the people who passed the bill. But is assumed that all the people who lost their jobs would find new ones — without suggesting where or how that was going to happen — and that the supply lines would always work. And this was done without any attempt to repair the infrastructure. The broken rail lines, the falling down bridges, the crumbling roads. It was as if nobody even WANTED to consider what the future might hold. Everybody voted for it, too. Both parties. It was United Stupidity in Action (USA!).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Most things like this turn out to have had a short-term goal for the interested parties who gained in some way from the decision, not always financially. I agree that taking jobs away would always be a bad idea in a world where population are on the increase.

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        • It not only removed some jobs … it quite literally stripped probably 90% of our manufacturing jobs. Eliminated the factories where blue collar workers could find jobs and we did that without creating any other kinds of jobs for these workers. We have a much higher than official unemployment rate because people who no longer get unemployment and have not gotten jobs “don’t count” in the official rate.

          Taking apart an economy is easy. Building one up is a whole lot harder. I wonder how they are going to figure it out. Or maybe we won’t bother to figure out an answer and just continue to leave the jobless permanently jobless. Who knows?

          Liked by 1 person

  5. This piqued my interest enough to make me think I should read this one. I am sure I will disagree with a lot of it, but it is important to see the facts from the other side. Having been in the freight business since before NAFTA, I never found it to be as bad as many people thought it was. His comments may prove me wrong. Many of the jobs were going to leave anyway, so having them close at hand with lower tariffs was probably better than having them halfway around the world. Registering business in tax-friendly countries allowed wealthy companies to get wealthier. We could have addressed that at the time.
    Some did go back to ocean freight during the pandemic. Mail and e-commerce actually were going from China to the port of Vancouver where Air Canada would fly it beyond to where it was going in Canada and select US cities. It is still happening, but on a smaller scale with increased flights.
    We will never live in a nation where anyone can make it until we fix the lack of education in some states (mostly red one I would guess) that drives incredible stupidity.

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  6. I’m presently ready the Odyssey by Homer. It’s a little better than the Iliad.
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m looking forward to reading this

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    • It was interesting. Not summer beach reading, but interesting to see the real interactions of those “high up” in the government, just trying to do what they think are their jobs. I reminded me of how much we don’t know and will NEVER know.

      Liked by 2 people

      • A cogent and balanced review. Certainly perks my interest to read/hear.

        One thing – media coverage: During my 40 plus years as a TV/radio news reporter, I always found it necessary to read/follow as many different media outlets as possible. Daily: I read myriad newspapers, listened and watched as many different newscasts and commentaries as time allowed. Much of this BEFORE the first of usually several different daily news reports. I was always in hyper drive to absorb as much information asap so I brought an informed consciousness to my reports. I also weighed equally all the information given to me by those I interviewed.

        I would like to think some of my standards (passed on to me by the previous generation of reporters dating back to “Murrow’s Boys”) are used by today’s journalists. They obviously have a tougher going of things in the public arena than I did.

        Liked by 2 people

        • They have much less time to learn anything and fewer newspapers to read. But it’s time that’s the big one. They have to pack in a huge amount of information in a very small package. I’m not sure which came first — America’s inability to concentrate or the news (and television’s) unwillingness to stay on point. It’s interesting now that the economy is in the dumpster, how much more interesting television is with commercial clusters cut to a minimum.

          Liked by 1 person

        • There is no comparison to news of past decades and the news channels today. How much of the programming on news channels is real reporting and how much is entertainment? Putting on a crew of commentators who make up things and bring on friendly guests to support their made up opinions is not helping give us “fair and balanced” news. We also have talk shows that bring on people from both sides for the latest spin, and sometimes things get out of hand with shouting and name-calling. I watch local news mostly which provides very little national news and almost no international news. Frontline is still superior reporting, in my humble opinion. 60 minutes is usually worth a watch as well.

          Like

      • I’m sure it’s the tip of the iceberg

        Liked by 2 people

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