Wednesday, October 19, 2011

GOP Candidates and foreign policy

We all know that conventional wisdom says that President Obama's re-election chances hinge on how the economy is doing. I think there's at least some truth in that - but most of us also know that the quality of his competition will certainly come into play once a candidate is chosen from this clown fest we call the Republican nomination process.

I am struck by how well President Obama's foreign policy (combined with Bush II's abject failures) has pretty much silenced and/or confused his opponents on that issue. The New York Times agrees.

For a while, we were concerned that the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination were not saying much about national security and foreign affairs. Now that a few have started, maybe they were better off before.

For example, in last night's debate we learned that Cain would/wouldn't negotiate with terrorists, that all candidates think we should eliminate foreign aid (1% of the budget)...oops, except for what we give Israel, that Perry thinks we should pull out of the United Nations, and that Bachmann doesn't know that Libya is in Africa. Finally, I don't know about you, but I came away from the debate totally confused about whether or not most of the candidates (except Ron Paul and Santorum on opposite sides of the question) would put defense cuts on the table. I just know that Gingrich HATES the idea of a Super Committee for deficit reduction.

In the past we've seen that Perry doesn't know that India declined to buy F-16s and so he accused the administration of refusing to sell them and that Cain doesn't think its important to know who is the leader of Uzbekistan (an important supply route for American troops in Afghanistan).

So far Romney has managed to avoid guffaws on foreign policy during the debates, but in his one speech on the topic lately, he said that on "day one" he would reverse all the cuts the Obama administration has made to defense...except that under President Obama, defense spending has actually increased. Oops.

And then there was that whole Romney fiasco last year when he criticized the New START Treaty and fellow Republican Dick Lugar called him out on his nonsense.

Senator Richard G. Lugar, one of the Republican Party’s senior voices on foreign affairs, fired back Thursday at Mitt Romney over his opposition to the new nuclear treaty with Russia, accusing Mr. Romney of “hyperbolic” rhetoric that is divorced from the reality of arms control.

In an unusually harsh statement, Mr. Lugar said Mr. Romney “repeated discredited objections” to the treaty and “appears unaware of arms control history and context.”

The truth is that none of these candidates has a rational thing to say about foreign policy. Their approach is much like the one Republicans have used about the economy...if President Obama proposes it - object. The problem they have is that what the President is doing has been wildly successful. So that's a dilemma for them. As the NYT says, they'd probably be better off ignoring the topic. But I don't suppose the American voter would find that acceptable either.


  1. Excellently done. They expected Obama to pull out of Iraq early on and cut spending very soon in Aphganistan. They wanted this and could deal wit it. Instead he charged further into Aphganistan and went to war against Libya, despite what we call it. In short, he mostly did what many of them would have done, and that left them with a real problem. They have been stuttering ever since.

  2. The GOP debate last night - the beginning of this clip is one of the funniest I have seen. Someone on Comedy Central will surely steal it!