John Bolton Will Not Be Our First Mustachioed President of the 21st Century

Matt Berman

The 'stache is back.

Former United Nations Ambassador (and Mitt Romney hanger-on) John Bolton is looking hard at a presidential run in 2016, reportsNational Review's Robert Costa. According to Costa, Bolton—who has eyed the White House before—is planning to head to the all-important states of Iowa and New Hampshire later this year and into 2014 to "begin an informal national tour." While he hasn't yet made up his mind, Bolton is "looking to be a player," Costa writes.

And for someone with Bolton's national security and foreign policy chops, you can kind of see why. Bolton was, of course, the U.N. ambassador under George W. Bush who once said that the U.N. building in New York could lose "10 stories" and "it wouldn't make a bit of difference," and that "there is no United Nations." 

Here's something of a greatest hits video of Bolton's comments about the U.N.:

Syria, Benghazi, the National Security Agency scandal, and the battle over the extradition of Edward Snowden have placed national security and foreign policy front and center so far in 2013. Particularly with Snowden and Syria, U.S. frustrations over relationships with nations like China and Russia are at a steady boil. More and more, it's looking like these issues may define President Obama's second term. It's not hard to see how someone like Bolton, whose whole existence is based on hawkish attitudes on America's place in the world, could think that this is his time to take the reins. 

The thing is, though, people don't really care all that much about foreign policy and national security. That's even been the case in the last month. Only one in four Americans have followed the NSA news "very closely," and that was when the story first broke. At that same time, only 13 percent of Americans were following the violence in Syria very closely. This is compared with 33 percent of Americans who were watching the economy.

A June 2012 report from Pew also found this: While a large majority believed the U.S. should be "active" in world affairs, 83 percent of Americans agreed with the statement that "we should pay less attention to problems overseas, concentrate more on problems here at home." Forty-five percent of Americans agreed. And this isn't just a partisan thing: More Republicans (86 percent) than Democrats (80 percent) held that view in 2012.

In a Gallup survey from this June, 53 percent of Americans said that economic problems were the most important problems facing the United States. Foreign policy and national security issues? Nine percent of Americans thought that they were the most important, with only 2 percent of Americans answering national security specifically. That falls within the telephone poll's margin of error of 3 percent.

So while it may seem like a good idea right now for a hard-line, "realist imperialist" Republican to take a look at 2016, the actual reality of how little Americans care about these issues may ensure that Bolton's presidential candidacy never grows much larger than a nice vacation to New Hampshire.