Bolton knows that Biden will likely become a puppet president, a bipartisanly beloved leader presiding over a radical Cabinet featuring the dregs of the Obama administration and ex-Bernie Bros. If Bolton wanted to join the Lincoln Project brigade, he would have tried to tank the entire Republican Party in his book. Instead, he cleanly aims his fire at Trump, not for his ideology but precisely for his lack of one, and at grifters tied to Team Trump and Team Trump alone.

After all, he has lavished praise on Mike Pence, a Republican stalwart while Trump was still palling around with the Clintons, yet excoriated Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. He went so far as to insinuate that Jared and Ivanka would throw the Supreme Court seat of a Democratic appointee, such as that now held by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to a nonoriginalist justice.

So he would rather not taint what remains of his legacy but would expedite the inevitable decline of Trump, let Biden falter on his own, and be ready to reshape the Republican Party.

It’s narcissistically transactional, the exact same vice for which he excoriates Trump. But Bolton is playing the long game, and given his track record, he might not be too far off-base.