The New York Times reports that President Bush recently held an off-the-record meeting with conservative writers. During the meeting, Council on Foreign Relations fellow Max Boot asked Bush why he had diverted from the priorities of his first term. “That’s ridiculous,” Bush said. Boot then read from a Wall Street Journal op-ed by war hawk John Bolton in which Bolton said Bush’s presidency is “in total intellectual collapse.” Bush then lashed out at Bolton:
Bush grew more agitated at the mention of his own former senior diplomat. “Let me just say from the outset that I don’t consider Bolton credible,” the president said bitterly. Bush had brought Bolton into the top ranks of his administration, fought for Senate confirmation and, when lawmakers balked, defied critics to give the hawkish aide a recess appointment. “I spent political capital for him,” Bush said, and look what he got in return.
Matthew Yglesias notes, “Of course Bush is right, Bolton isn’t a credible thinker on national security issues. But Bolton is also right — the inherent unworkability of the Bush doctrine has persuaded Bush to substantially abandon it in the waning days of his administration.”