The Corner

Secretaries of State

John Bolton, breaking my heart, decided not to run for president. Then Newt Gingrich said that, if he were elected, he would name Bolton secretary of state. (One reason I liked the presidency for Bolton: It didn’t require Senate confirmation, merely national popular election.) Then Bolton endorsed Mitt Romney, saying he was the best man for president.

Some reporter, if he gets a chance, should ask Newt: “Would you still nominate Bolton?”

I have a memory from the 1988 Republican primaries: Jack Kemp promised to “fire” George Shultz. Big applause line, in front of righties. The promise was kind of absurd, because secretaries of state naturally leave office with their presidents. They don’t hang around to be “fired.” But Kemp was serving up red meat.

Shultz may be a Cold War hero now, but, oh, did the Right hate Shultz! They sometimes treated him like he was Paul Warnke or something. A lot of the Right had harsh things to say about Reagan, too. He’s Saint Ronald and all that now, but it wasn’t necessarily so during his presidency. I remember Howard Phillips, the chairman of the Conservative Caucus, calling Reagan “a useful idiot for Soviet propaganda.” Another conservative gave Reagan a Darth Vader doll, to remind him that the Soviet Union was, after all, an evil empire.

And do you recall this joke, a hot item among conservatives during Reagan’s second term? “None of this would be happening if Ronald Reagan were alive.”

I don’t know what got me started down Memory Lane, but I’ll return to 2012 now . . .

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