Some have long lauded the former undersecretary of state and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations for his near absolute commitment to national sovereignty. Others have despised what they see as his lack of humility and reflex toward military force.
But who is the real John Bolton? Sometimes, he’s a man of deep civility. One old friend and Yale Law School contemporary, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, says so. …
… Many of Bolton’s acquaintances would suggest that Thomas’ experience casts a revealing and accurate light on Bolton’s character. If politics is not on the agenda, Washington figures such as Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page say that Bolton, who grew up in working-class Baltimore, is respectful, even kind.
But if politics is the topic, as it often is, the man can be more than a little different. In his positions under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Bolton was renowned for his blunt style dealing with underlings and superiors alike, including those presidents.
As Peter Baker reported in 2008, Bolton fell out with Bush over what he regarded as the president’s insufficiently hawkish approach to countering North Korea. Although Bush might not have liked Bolton’s repudiation — “I don’t consider Bolton credible,” he told Baker at the time — the ambassador’s record on North Korea fits another major politician. And that man is going to be Bolton’s new boss.