When Trump announced in December that the US embassy in Israel would be moved to Jerusalem, Bolton tweeted him a three-“reality” salute:

By contrast, he lambasted Trump’s predecessor using the same word, writing on his website in 2015, “Obama’s national security strategy is most noteworthy for its detachment from reality.” He wrote in 2014, in response to Russia’s military incursions into Ukraine, “[Putin] understands that Obama is a man who lives in a fog of words. To Obama, rhetoric is reality. To Putin, power is reality.”

It’s easy to see why Bolton has latched on to “reality.” If you’re pushing for military intervention, the word allows you to paint anyone who’s against it as being dangerously naive, or so enamored of lofty ideals as to be oblivious to the true intentions of enemies posing a direct threat. Or if not oblivious, then, perhaps worse, unwilling to see the dangers all around.

Trump is famously thin-skinned, with a tendency to bristle at perceived slights. He encourages similar emotions in his base, warning them repeatedly that on trade and other issues the world is “laughing at us.” Now, Bolton will be  whispering in his ear about those who can see reality versus those who are being taken for a ride. And since the position of national security advisor does not require a Senate confirmation, there appears to be little to stop that unsettling scenario from becoming a reality.

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