Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Friday, February 15th, 2013.

GOP Brand X

National Security, Republican Party

One of the great marketing success stories of all time is the way that the Republican Party somehow came to own national security issues after the World War II era. If you consider actual history there’s no evidence that they deserved their reputation as THE foreign policy/defense party. But the idea that Republicans are “tough” on security while Democrats are “soft” came to be one of the most solid and enduring truisms of modern American politics.

For decades, Republicans packaged themselves as the party that knew how to stand up to enemies. Further, it was believed Republicans were born with a gene that allowed them to understand All Things Military better than Dems, whether they had any military experience or not.

But the pro-military aura — we might call it the Republican Military Mystique — seems to have worn off, at least among the public. Maybe they finally caught on they were being played for fools by Dubya and his War on Terra. But exit polls taken after the November elections showed that voters trusted the Democratic nominee over the Republican one on national security, for the first time in three decades.

Of course, Mitt Romney gives the impression that the only time he gets tough is when he’s taking bread from orphans. Further, the fact that the GOP just plain forgot to include the traditional Salute to War in their convention last year tells us they’ve lost focus. Well, focus on anything other than how much they hate President Obama.

The “sequestration” included massive cuts to defense spending that, theoretically, Republicans could not countenance. Well, turns out defense spending cuts are being countenanced. John Boehner is saying Republicans will not support a sequestration deal that does not balance the budget in ten years without tax increases.

See also Ezra Klein, “Clint Eastwood and Barney Frank Attack the Pentagon.”

Now that certain Republican senators are done with their male dominance displays regarding Chuck Hagel, word is votes will be switched and the nomination will be approved next week. But it’s all been too much for Fred Kaplan, who says Republicans can’t be trusted on national security.

It’s been clear, at least since the 2012 election, that the Republican Party has abrogated its role—really, abandoned any interest—in shaping or seriously discussing American foreign policy. But only recently has this indifference shifted into toxic territory, and on Tuesday the fumes formed a poisonous cloud, the likes of which hadn’t been witnessed in decades.

Republicans were a bunch of isolationists before World War II, and they’ve finally gone full circle. All that most of them know about foreign policy is Iran Bad, Israel Good. Their idea of an exotic foreign country is Honolulu. Or maybe Manhattan.

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