John Bolton Comes Out Supporting the Boehner Plan (Updated)

No one can accuse former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton of being a squishy moderate. So his words in support of the Boehner debt plan may carry some weight.


All conservatives, especially those concerned with American national security, should support the Boehner Plan.

That plan, as Speaker Boehner himself understands, is far from perfect.  But there is no reasonable prospect, given the current political balance of power in Washington, to get anything better on the debt ceiling issue.  We cannot know exactly how financial markets will react to the various scenarios that might play out over the next several days, but the potential cost of finding out what the defeat of the Boehner Plan would be is not worth the risk.

If America’s prospects for economic recovery are gravely impaired, if President Obama is able to turn the inevitable turmoil to his political advantage and achieve re-election, and if we face four more years of his debilitating economic and national security policies, the safety and security of America in the world may be damaged irreparably.

In politics as in battle, conservatives should remember Carl von Clausewitz’s sage advice to be satisfied with identifying and achieving “the culminating point of victory.”  That does not mean total victory, but rather the maximum that can be achieved in any particular engagement.  We should not stop short, but neither should we risk what we have achieved by proceeding dangerously beyond that culminating point.

That’s pretty much where I stand at the moment. The Boehner plan isn’t ideal by a long shot, but without more power on the Hill and a different occupant in the White House it’s probably the best that’s possible. And there’s no real sign that even it is possible, with Reid working on his own plan that at this point can’t pass the House. John McCain might do well to focus his fire on Senate Democrats that might be peeled away from Reid instead of mocking the Tea Party, Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell.


Both the Boehner and Reid plans count “cuts” that aren’t real cuts (they’re wind-downs of the wars that may or may not happen) and neither really rights the ship. Both deal with debt amounts in the short term that amount to a few hours or days of what the nation spends — not serious structural reform. Reid’s focuses too much on DoD and not enough on entitlements, which makes it dangerous for national security as well as being inattentive to the real problem.

Given the divided government we have, righting the ship is not yet possible in my opinion. It will only be possible by first living past the current fight in a way that changes the national conversation away from tax hikes and toward spending cuts, and then winning the next big fight in 2012.

Update: Boehner 2.0 is reportedly getting some traction among Republicans.


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