It wouldn’t be a stretch to expect any Broadway aficionado to be able to whistle the tune, “The Room Where It Happens,” from the ever-so-popular, long-running show Hamilton. The song describes the Compromise of 1790 between Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.
“Compromise” is not a word readers likely will associate with the new hotly anticipated book by former National Security Advisor John R. Bolton, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir (Simon & Schuster). Almost a week before its official launch, the book already has shot to Number One on the Amazon bestseller list.
As National Security Advisor for President Trump, Bolton spent many of his 453 days in the room where it happened, and the facts speak for themselves.
The book, according to the New York Times, which got hold of an advance copy, “describes Mr. Bolton’s 17 turbulent months at President Trump’s side through a multitude of crises and foreign policy challenges.”
The memoir already is being regarded as one of the most comprehensive and substantial accounts of the Trump Administration, and one of the few to date by a top-level official. With almost daily access to the President, Bolton has produced a precise rendering of his days in and around the Oval Office.
What Bolton saw, according to the description by his publisher, astonished him: a President for whom getting reelected was the only thing that mattered, even if it meant endangering or weakening the nation. “I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by reelection calculations,” he writes.
In fact, according to the Simon & Schuster description, he argues that the House committed impeachment malpractice by keeping their prosecution focused narrowly on Ukraine when Trump’s Ukraine-like transgressions existed across the full range of his foreign policy — and Bolton documents what those were, and attempts by him and others in the Administration to raise alarms about them.
According to the publisher, Bolton shows a President addicted to chaos, who embraced our enemies and spurned our friends, and was deeply suspicious of his own government. In Bolton’s telling, all this helped put Trump on the bizarre road to impeachment. “The differences between this presidency and previous ones I had served were stunning,” writes Bolton, who worked for Reagan, Bush 41 and Bush 43. He says he discovered a President who thought foreign policy is like closing a real estate deal — about personal relationships, made-for-TV showmanship and advancing his own interests. As a result, the U.S. lost an opportunity to confront its deepening threats, and in cases like China, Russia, Iran and North Korea ended up in a more vulnerable place.
Bolton’s account starts with his long march to the West Wing as Trump and others woo him for the National Security job. The minute he lands, he has to deal with Syria’s chemical attack on the city of Douma, and the crises after that never stop. As he writes in the opening pages, “If you don’t like turmoil, uncertainty, and risk — all the while being constantly overwhelmed with information, decisions to be made and sheer amount of work — and enlivened by international and domestic personality and ego conflicts beyond description, try something else.”
President Trump’s reaction to the book was predictable, based on this Twitter post: “Wacko John Bolton’s ‘exceedingly tedious’ (New York Times) book is made up of lies & fake stories. Said all good about me, in print, until the day I fired him. A disgruntled boring fool who only wanted to go to war. Never had a clue, was ostracized & happily dumped. What a dope!”