On Wednesday’s episode of The View, former national security adviser John Bolton defended the title of his new tell-all book.
The Room Where It Happened bears a similarity to a song title from the hit musical, Hamilton, “The Room Where It Happens.” Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda recently tweeted about the book title and his song, accusing Bolton of writing “a cash-in book.”
Let me tell you what I wish I’d known
When I was young and dreamed of glory
You have no control
Who lives, who dies, who
[borrows your song title to write a cash-in book when they could have testified before Congress]
tells your story...https://t.co/mJlJaxGDnf
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) June 18, 2020
The View co-host Meghan McCain echoed Miranda’s critique, asking Bolton, “Do you understand that it’s a song about someone being unprincipled … and do you understand why it’s insulting to those of us who are fans of Hamilton to co-opt art from Lin-Manuel Miranda for your own political purposes?”
But Bolton initially dodged the Hamilton comparisons with his more literal interpretation. “The phrase ‘in the room’ is a phrase used in Washington a thousand times a day,” Bolton said, “so it’s a fair use and I think it summarizes what we were trying to do.”
Quick history refresh: The song “The Room Where It Happens” depicts an event in American history known as the “dinner table bargain”: a secretive meeting in 1790 between Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton and Rep. James Madison.
Long story short: the closed-door compromise resulted in Washington, D.C., situated on the Potomac in exchange for the brand new nation absorbing the states’ debts. Hamilton portrays it as an undemocratic, under-the-table deal-making moment, which is McCain’s point.
But Bolton took a rosier view of the incident in his rebuttal, starting with a surprising revelation.
“Look, I’m a fan of Hamilton, too,” he said. “That was one of the original compromises of American government, one of the most important things that happened, so I don’t see why people should be upset about the depiction of that event, where to this day, nobody really does exactly know what happened at that dinner in the room where that compromise was made.”
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