Max Boot might not seem the most likely cameo in a pro-Hillary Clinton video, but there the conservative foreign policy expert was, a lifelong Republican decrying Trump as someone not fit to handle the nuclear codes, appearing just before the Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer.
Boot didn’t know the Democratic National Convention was using a clip of him in its programming Wednesday night, but he told TPM in an email conversation on Thursday that he didn’t object to its strongly anti-Trump message.
A senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Boot has advised Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mitt Romney on foreign policy. He’s written glowing op-eds about American imperialism, long advocated for military intervention in Syria and Libya, and once wrote the U.S. needed to make a “long-term commitment in Iraq – for 100 years if need be.”
But when Trump launched his candidacy by calling Mexican immigrants “rapists” and drug dealers and, shortly after, attacked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) for his years spent as a prisoner of war, Boot, a former foreign policy adviser to McCain, said he “hit the roof.”
“I’ve been alarmed and horrified ever since. His rhetoric has gotten even more deranged over the past year,” Boot wrote.
He first described Trump as a “fascist” on Twitter last November and came under fire from fellow conservatives for telling the New York Times in March he would “sooner vote for Josef Stalin” than Trump. Since then Trump’s rhetoric has continued to pitch upward, with the GOP nominee this week “inviting a Russian cyber attack,” as Boot put it.
“I feel it’s my duty as a citizen to speak out against the dangers facing the Republic – and there is no greater danger right now than Donald Trump,” Boot wrote. “I may have lost a few friends along the way; I certainly have strained relationships with the few Trump supporters I know.”
Boot went on to say the “vast majority of thoughtful conservatives” he knows, particularly foreign policy experts, agree a Trump presidency would be disastrous.
So why aren’t they speaking out?
“Some people who know better are too cowed to speak the truth in public,” Boot wrote.
He wrote it also comes down to political opportunism and “exaggerated fear and loathing of Hillary – a lot of conservatives have convinced themselves (wrongly) that Trump, as bad as he is, is better than Clinton.”