June 26, 2020

"He’s the only man I think I ever met -- I knew him for a year -- I don’t think I ever saw him smile once. I said to him, ‘John, do you ever smile?’ And it tells you something about somebody."

Trump, talking about John Bolton, at a Town Hall on Fox News yesterday.

ADDED: It's what he said right before that that caught my attention and actually shocked me enough to click it off. I transcribed this part myself:
But I'll tell you, he was good for one thing. Everyone thought he was crazy. Because all he wants to do is bomb people. He'll fight Russia. Let's fight Russia. Let's fight China. Let's take them on at the same time. He's crazy. When I walked into a room with him, I knew that. When they saw Bolton, they always gave me what I wanted, because they said, Trump's going to drop bombs on me. He's got this maniac with him. So, in a way, he helped me in terms of a negotiation. 
That's where I clicked off, but I turned it back on this morning to do the transcription and here's how it continues:
But seriously...
But seriously! So he was kidding??



I don't kid.

Yikes. I slept on it, disturbed, then come back this morning and catch the "but seriously"...
But seriously, he didn't do a good job. He wasn't smart. He wasn't sharp. And he's the only man I think I ever met -- I knew him for a year -- I don’t think I ever saw him smile once. I said to him, ‘John, do you ever smile?’ And it tells you something about somebody."

87 comments:

MayBee said...

That's sexist.

Kevin said...

How can he smile when we’re at war with so few countries?

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

Trump hired Bolton - all you need to know.

Trump is a dumbass.

Temujin said...

I saw him smile once. But he still looked pissed.

Matthew Heintz said...

John Bolton can't smile. All the dried food residue and snot in his moustachio causes his upper lip to be too rigid to smile.

Kay said...

Just curious, what did you find disturbing about what he said before the “but seriously” line?

rhhardin said...

I'm not following what the alarm is about. If it's a spider, call a man over to take care of it.

Brian said...

Just as I said a few weeks ago. Bolton served a purpose for Trump. He was the chaos that allowed Trump to try and negotiate a better deal.

The "John, do you ever smile" line is pure PowerTalk. Similar to Trump's conversations with Comey. Or Trump ordering dinner for Chris Christie (or was that Mitt?). He's gleaning information about Bolton. Is Bolton a one trick pony? If so, then after that trick is over, he's useless.

Josephbleau said...

Obama hired Comey - all you need to know.

What a corrupt dumbass.

chuck said...

Why were you disturbed?

TheThinMan said...

How would you know he’s smiling under that giant mustache?

Jeff Brokaw said...

Take him seriously but not literally. You’ll drive yourself crazy parsing his words *and* expecting precise use of language. It’s just not his thing, but it works somehow.

Wince said...

Nixon had his “Mad Man” Theory, where rival nations would fear provoking the unpredictable mad man within him. Problem was as the actual decision maker Nixon needed to demonstrate that tendency for his threat to be credible.

Trump is simply observing the same ancillary strategic benefit at work in having a predictable advisor that he must hold at bay, call it the “Mad Dog” Theory.

Taken together, Trump is the stable genius.

traditionalguy said...

Bolton sees enemies everywhere. No wonder he never smiles. His only skill set is doing preemptive attacks on suspicion that someone is an enemy. DJT had him pegged. He is an attack dog.

Etienne said...

Bolton pretty much is a poster child for the downfall of the American Empire by hair lips with clipboards.

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

Under Trump what did the US get that it wanted? Our prestige and influence is at an all time low.

MikeR said...

But seriously, people had been saying this about Bolton since Trump hired him. The bad cop in the good cop/bad cop routine. I honestly thought it was obvious. He's not going to start a war on Bolton's say-so, but having Bolton around makes the other guys wonder.

Equipment Maintenance said...

Good for Trump, using all the tools at his disposal in negotiations.

wild chicken said...

If Trump was really using Bolton as Bad Cop he shouldn't be so transparent about it.

More loose shit. Sadly.

Gusty Winds said...

OK. Trump brings a Neo-Con in the room, and gets to play good cop. What’s the result? No dog fights over Syria with Russia (like Hillary wanted), de-escalation with Iraq and Afghanistan, ISIS decimated, Iranian General dead in a precision strike, and 9000 troops coming home from Germany in Sept. Maybe Trump should make Bolton the Domestic Czar to deal with riots and ANTIFA.

Any new wars except the one Democrats started on our home soil?

Ralph L said...

The Dems/media painting Reagan as a volatile warmonger helped him, too.

Gusty Winds said...

ARM: "Our prestige and influence is at an all time low"

Who cares? He hasn't killed hundreds of thousands of brown people like the Bush family, and he hasn't re-instituted the slave trade in Libya like Obama/Clinton.

What is the result your looking for? Peace, and no unnecessary wars, or having your ass kissed?

Tank said...

My theory when Trump took on Bolton was that he was there to be the "bad cop." He certainly was not there because Trump agreed with his warmonger political positions.

Butkus51 said...

Who do you think China would like to see as president? Not Trump, I know that.

Gusty Winds said...

Trump USED Bolton while he needed him. Good. Now the guy is a groveling ass. He's on the scrap pile of relevance like Megyn Kelly, Anthony Scaramucci, Bill Kristol...who cares?? It's the last gasp of doggy paddling before Bolton is completely under water.



M Jordan said...

Is it just me or are we headed for another election night progressive mental breakdown? I feel it bigly in my bones. The media — and I’ll include Althouse here — has concluded Trump is done, lost, exposed, ruined. Peggy Noonan said this morning Trump’s over and even his crowd at Tulsa knows it. Ann Coulter, Tucker Carlson, and other fair-weather supporters are beating the drums. But I’m not feeling it at all out in the real world. I see the polls. I understand them. They are setting up people for a huge, collective nervous breakdown even worse than 2016.

There will be no President Biden. You shall see.

tcrosse said...

I kid, ladies and gentlemen, but I do it with love.

Char Char Binks, Esq. said...

John would be prettier if he smiled.

Unknown said...

I knew a guy down here in Miami, never smiled that I saw. Some guy asked him why he never smiled and he said, "say something funny." Fair point.

Gusty Winds said...

Two simple answers to this post:

1) Hillary would have dropped more bombs all over the place to soothe he penis envy
2) We would have never heard of COVID-19.

Both True

stutefish said...

But seriously, it's a figure of speech, not an element of formal logic. It's not, "I was kidding, now I'm serious." It's, "all that aside, here's the important point."

SensibleCitizen said...

I think we learned two things from that exchange. Trump hired Bolton as the stick so he could be in charge of carrots. Second, his insight into Bolton, based on his lack of joy, suggests Trump is a student of human nature and is much more sensitive and tuned-in than his critics like to admit.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

I’ll go out on a limb here and propose that the short clear declarative “I don’t kid” was in fact said ironically. He meant the opposite of what those three words usually mean. Thanks to Trump even irony may get a second chance. MAIA make America ironic again!

Big Mike said...

Obama hired Comey - all you need to know.

What a corrupt dumbass.


Obama also hired Jarrett, Susan Rice, Brennan, Clapper, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry. Some of those hires make logon look almost reasonable.

Freder Frederson said...

Trump is simply observing the same ancillary strategic benefit at work in having a predictable advisor that he must hold at bay, call it the “Mad Dog” Theory.

This only works if you assume the other guy is gullible/stupid. Not a good bet when you are dealing with skilled and experienced diplomats.

Sally327 said...

If Biden gets elected, he's not going to hire anyone who smiles. He won't want anyone outdoing his own big toothy grins.

Bolton would probably say he couldn't smile because he was so horrified by how incompetent and scary Trump turned out to be. So Trump may want to drop this particular put-down.

The idea other countries are frightened of being bombed by the USA and will cave in negotiations to avoid that, it seems delusional. I hope that doesn't sum up the Trump Doctrine.

I Callahan said...

Under Trump what did the US get that it wanted? Our prestige and influence is at an all time low.

No, it’s not.

Josephbleau said...

China and Russia have lots of prestige and influence because no one doubts for a minute that they will take over your country and rob your wealth if they think they can get away with it. We have less prestige in Europe because they piss on our leg and tell us it’s raining. They cry if we tell them to participate in their own defense. They are not better than us, they are superior to us.

narciso said...


this is who will be biden's major domo in these matters,
https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/2020/06/bidens-foreign-policy-boss-called-anti-israel-dnc-daniel-greenfield/

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

Obama also hired Jarrett, Susan Rice, Brennan, Clapper, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry.

Right after the election almost all of those appeared in a scowling group photo, showing their disgust with America for electing Trump. Famous photo. Fun fact: all those same people actually look creepy and weird when they do smile.

Josephbleau said...

“The idea other countries are frightened of being bombed by the USA and will cave in negotiations to avoid that, it seems delusional. I hope that doesn't sum up the Trump Doctrine.”

Why pay for an Air Force if no one is afraid of it? Why pay for police if they can’t arrest criminals?

Freder Frederson said...

2) We would have never heard of COVID-19.

This makes no sense at all. Unless of course, you think China hates Trump so much that they released Covid on the world to damage Trump. Which I guess means we could have avoided Covid by electing Hillary.

9000 troops coming home from Germany in Sept.

Oh yeah, our boys and girls in Germany are going through hell. You do realize Germany is considered a plum and very desirable assignment?

Freder Frederson said...

I’ll go out on a limb here and propose that the short clear declarative “I don’t kid” was in fact said ironically.

Whether or not he is serious, this is not something the POTUS should be sending mixed messages about.

Leland said...

I read nothing that triggered me, but then I don't watch the news to get spun up as to be so easily triggered by something Trump would say.

traditionalguy said...

It is Trump’s intelligence scares the whole world’ s conmen that all sell out the Deplorable Americans.. The Art of War redux.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

Whether or not he is serious, this is not something the POTUS should be sending mixed messages about.

Mixed messages? Review the years 2009-2016 and you’ll see a president and VP travel the world purposely insulting our allies, suggesting their predecessors were racist hatemongers, and coddled stroked and bribed sworn enemies Iran and China. Biden took Chinese cash to preach China’s good intentions. Obama colluded with the Kremlin to throw 2016 to Hillary and followed up with treasonous acts post-election.

chuck said...

I don't think Trump hired Bolton to be a bad cop, I think he hired him in the search for an effective head of the NSC, and fired him because he wasn't. It isn't rocket science.

Sally327 said...

"Why pay for an Air Force if no one is afraid of it? Why pay for police if they can’t arrest criminals?"

I walk by the tiger in the zoo and I'm not afraid of it.

Those are two different questions. As to the second one, it's not the power to arrest that's the issue, it's how they choose to go about doing it.

Ken B said...

I think his saying Bolton wants to fight everyone at once is obviously hyperbole, hence "but seriously" makes sense.

Narr said...

Oh no! Trump wants to take 9000 US troops out of their "plum and very desirable assignment" in Germany! And isn't having our troops in plum desirable assignments in prosperous, democratic, threatening-to-nobody countries like Germany why we have a military in the first place?

Narr
Like fish in a barrel





Birkel said...

Freder Frederson: "...killed and experienced diplomats."

In the last 70 years, which of that alleged existent group gained anything?
China is currently experiencing setback after setback, so that even if I were to grant China beating the US diplomats who raced to offer concessions for temporary gain, none of that was permanent.

mikee said...

What Trump says means little compared to what he does. He removed Bolton when Bolton was not useful to promotion of administration policy. Pity Trump couldn't convince Bolton's mustache to stay on and reform the intelligence agencies.

Earnest Prole said...

Like many of my high-profile hires, he didn't do a good job. He wasn't smart. He wasn't sharp.

Josephbleau said...

“Oh yeah, our boys and girls in Germany are going through hell. You do realize Germany is considered a plum and very desirable assignment?“

Having troops in Germany is not a desirable assignment for the taxpayer.

J. Farmer said...

Yet more proof that Trump's reputation as a master negotiator is laughably at odds with reality. Bolton's presence did not help with any negotiations; if anything, it had the exact opposite effect. The notion that Bolton's eagerness for military attacks would scare countries into making concessions on matters of their own security interests only demonstrates what a childish view Trump has of how diplomacy works. Nobody "always gave [him] what [he] wanted." That's just a throwaway bullshit Trumpism.

PluralThumb said...

I think the President was speaking from a mental note as a whole. The genuine human concern is within the acknowledgment.
I think the basis of this judgment is when to withdraw the person from such stress.
Relying on an example from December 2018 of General Matis, who requested to finish 2 more months of service and was denied.

Michael K said...

This only works if you assume the other guy is gullible/stupid. Not a good bet when you are dealing with skilled and experienced diplomats.

Freder, have you considered a career in stand up comedy?

Oh yeah, our boys and girls in Germany are going through hell. You do realize Germany is considered a plum and very desirable assignment?

Used to be. When were you there last as a soldier ?

ARM needs an intervention. Keep sharp objects away from him.

Amadeus 48 said...

A hutchku called "Bolton's Lament":

I wanted war.
Trump said, “Let’s make them
Call our bluff.” I hate that.

hutchku rules:
1. three lines of four, five, and six syllables
2. must refer to a personal foible
3. no rhymes; this is faux high art



JB71-AZ said...

@Chuck - "I don't think Trump hired Bolton to be a bad cop, I think he hired him in the search for an effective head of the NSC, and fired him because he wasn't. It isn't rocket science."

Trump came into office, I think, knowing he needed people around him who knew the job. And he had a lot of recommendations... but most of those have shown they were politically connected, not necessarily politically effective and competent.

So - he fired about as fast as he hired until he got competent people in the slots where he really needed them.

This is seen as 'Chaos in the White House'. For any other business it's Tuesday.

Bill Snider said...

Walt Garrison was once asked if coach Tom Landry ever smiled. Walt answered "I never saw him smile, but remember, I was only there nine years".

Bill Snider said...

Walt Garrison was once asked if coach Tom Landry ever smiled. Walt answered "I never saw him smile, but remember, I was only there nine years".

Narr said...

I've never been a soldier in Germany or anywhere else, but some old friends of mine spent six years (c. 2004-2010) teaching in DoD schools at HQ-- sounded pretty posh to me, but maybe the Obama peace dividend has led to a lower QoL for those on the frontlines of the world, as they were set in 1945.

NATO was set up to keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down.

Narr
Things have changed but most lefties are too conservative to adjust

Freder Frederson said...

Used to be. When were you there last as a soldier ?

I was there, not as a soldier but as a civilian contractor. Wuerzburg from '95 to '97 (3rd and 1st ID at the time). Then I was in Ramstein (USAFE) 2009-2011, then another year in England at RAF Mildenhall.

Yes, there are a few whiny soldiers and airmen (mostly junior enlisted) who hated being there, but the vast majority had a blast. Many gamed the system (especially the civilians) so they could stay longer than they were supposed to. Europe is a three or five year accompanied tour and the housing allowance and locality adjustment is quite generous.

Freder Frederson said...

Having troops in Germany is not a desirable assignment for the taxpayer.

I won't disagree with that. But Trump really doesn't care about how much it costs to have U.S. soldiers in Germany, he is just pissed because he thinks Germany owes us money to maintain the troops (they don't).

He made this silly announcement about pulling 8500 troops from Germany to spite Merkel, without even consulting the Pentagon. And there is some intimation that the troops will not be coming home, but going to Poland. That opens a whole other can of worms (We have an agreement with Russia not to permanently base troops in the former East Bloc). Building new bases in Poland would be much more expensive than leaving them in Germany, especially since Poland will stick us in former Soviet bases that would require massive environmental and structural remediation to be brought up to U.S. standards.

Readering said...

I don't like Bolton but watch his lengthy interview with antagonistic Colbert the other night. His sense of humor is fine.

Trump just says stuff. Nothing is to be believed. Are the scales falling from AA's eyes?

Readering said...

Trump hired Bolton because he was aggie at blaming Obama on Fox.

Readering said...

Good.

asdfasdf said...

The people of Madison are getting what they voted for, good and hard.

Michael K said...

Nobody "always gave [him] what [he] wanted." That's just a throwaway bullshit Trumpism.

Farmer surrender diplomacy.

madAsHell said...

Old guys with facial hair........

All it says is, "I ain't getting laid!".

Bill Peschel said...

Freder Fredrickson, I'll ask again Birkel's question:

"Not a good bet when you are dealing with skilled and experienced diplomats."

In the last 70 years, which of that alleged existent group gained anything?
China is currently experiencing setback after setback, so that even if I were to grant China beating the US diplomats who raced to offer concessions for temporary gain, none of that was permanent.


So far, this group of skilled and experienced diplomats got us into multiple invasions and we're still in Afghanistan, doing what? We had Obama shipping pallets of cash to the mullahs. We had Bill Clinton granting China MFN status and destroying our middle-class manufacturing base, and Hillary Clinton destroying Libya and unleashing a flood of "refugees" into Europe.

So what are we missing by not having "top, top men" in charge?

Jeff said...

You do realize Germany is considered a plum and very desirable assignment?

I don't believe that. In the early 1980's when I was on active duty, Germany was extremely expensive. Enlisted people who brought their families could not afford decent housing, groceries were more expensive than back home, energy in all forms was more expensive, etc. An assignment to Germany entailed a big drop in your standard of living.

So far as I know, all of that is still true.

Drago said...

LOL

The Foreign Policy and Trade Negotiation "stylings" of Beijing Boy ARM, Freder The Contractor Who Has Seen It All, readering and J Farmer.

What a joke.

hombre said...

Maybe he was kidding when he said, “I don’t kid.”

hombre said...

Blogger Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

“...Trump is a dumbass.”

Trump parlayed his inheritance into billions, was a successful builder/contractor in a tough market, was a successful tv personality and was elected POTUS despite significant odds against him.

And you? What have you done that makes you a smartass? (Wow predictive text popped up “asshole.” Interesting.)

Josephbleau said...

"The notion that Bolton's eagerness for military attacks would scare countries into making concessions on matters of their own security interests only demonstrates what a childish view Trump has of how diplomacy works."

Yet one of the most successful negotiating tactics is "obey the law, or I will send you to jail." It does not work every time, but works a vast majority of the time. A small minority of citizens actually commit crime.

narciso said...

90s was when we were serving as the air cover for al queda in bosnia, merkel can train with her wooden rifles and half of their airforce grounded,

Narr said...

Some people had a good time scamming the US taxpayer after the Wall came down.

I know of a retired GS-12 or so who made a great career as essentially a resort and tourism specialist for the Army before and after the Wall. Her boasting of how she worked the system to her own benefit was familiar to me-- I have known a lot of federal and state public employees whose sole real purpose is their own advancement and prestige; it has always been strange to me that they're so obvious about it, but there it is. Goes with being a lefty I think--their own wellbeing is synonymous with the General Welfare.

Wurzburg is a sweet place, fer sher, well worth visiting.

I worked with a retired USAF noncom, who had been stationed at Ramstein during the Cold War; eleven years he and his family lived there . . . and he never left the base, by his own statement.

Narr
But now Trump is going to risk pissing off his boss Putin because he's mad at St. Angela!


tim maguire said...

Why were you so disturbed? We all knew that about Bolton. He was brought in to scare people so they’d deal with the calmer Trump. He was brought in to antagonize the UN, to antagonize people who needed antagonizing. Maybe he didn’t realize that’s all he was and he needed to go when it dawned on him that none of his plans were ever going to be implemented. A less arrogant man would have been willing to serve the purposes he served, but maybe a less arrogant Bolton would have been less useful to Trump.

James K said...

I'm sure that "But seriously..." simply means either "But I want to emphasize...." It's not that he wasn't being serious before, just that he wants to stress the point that he's about to make. Not that hard to figure out, really.

Clyde said...

Good cop, bad cop, obviously. Having a Bolton on staff let Trump tell potential adversaries, "Hey, Bolton wants to bomb the shit out of you. Are you sure we can't make a deal that keeps him from doing that?"

hstad said...

Gees, AA, you actually believe what President Trump said? He's pushing this for consumption toward various audiences. Your academic theory experience is overwhelming your real life experience. I though it was a smart couple of comments.

narciso said...

the past is not past

https://www.cubacenter.org/archives/2020/6/24/cubabrief-the-wasp-network-that-killed-americans-and-plotted-a-terror-attack-on-us-soil-were-not-the-castro-regimes-last-soldiers-of-the-cold-war

cubanbob said...

Freder the original purpose of NATO was to keep the Germans down, the Russians out and the Americans in. The Germans today can't even take out the US forces in Germany nevermind anyone else. The Russians can't even beat the Ukrainians. The mighty Warsaw Pact of 170 plus divisions and God knows how many tanks and artillery pieces back by hundreds of tactical nukes charging across the Fulda Gap and taking out every major Western European port no longer exists. If the Krauts are too cheap to pay the freight for their own defense, that's not our problem anymore. Russia isn't the USSR and Putin is just a thug but he is no Joseph Stalin.

J. Farmer said...

@Clyde:

Good cop, bad cop, obviously. Having a Bolton on staff let Trump tell potential adversaries, "Hey, Bolton wants to bomb the shit out of you. Are you sure we can't make a deal that keeps him from doing that?"

And when did that ever happen? Can you think of a single instance when such a tactic was useful in Trump's relations with foreign powers? Just one.

J. Farmer said...

@Drago:

LOL

The Foreign Policy and Trade Negotiation "stylings" of Beijing Boy ARM, Freder The Contractor Who Has Seen It All, readering and J Farmer.

What a joke.


This is why I love Trump fanboys. No matter how many times Trump falls on his face, they're around to let us know what a brilliant piece of improvisational theater it was.

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