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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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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Swami  •  Feb 15, 2013 @5:18 pm

    I noticed during the Hagel hearings that one of the Reug inquisitors mentioned about 70,000 people being killed in the Sryian civil war. He seemed genuinely dumbfounded that Obama could allow that kind of carnage. I asked myself,what am I missing here. I knew he wanted to portray Obama as weak and inept, but there was more to his attitude than simply that. It was that Repug mentality of invincible might that keeps us in a perpetual state of war and that our military is the answer to any problems.

    I recently saw a video about our failure in Vietnam; and it also explained our failure in Iraq and Afghanistan without even mentioning them.. This video is pertinent to understanding the whole GOP game of National defense..Thank you, Dr. Kissinger..Please watch it, at least the first part, it will open the eyes. It explains the current volunteer military( in so many words) and how war is now just an economic dynamic that’s been used successfully by the GOP.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=vELYvvPT4aI#!

  2. c u n d gulag  •  Feb 15, 2013 @5:21 pm

    In the MSM’s meme, these oh so brave, brave Republicans were our only defense against the threatening Soviet hordes!
    They hated the USSR’s oppressive government!
    They hated the internal security state – spying on it’s own people!
    They hated the the one-party rule!
    They hated that the people in the USSR had no voice, that their votes didn’t count, and that they had no real means to protest their oppressive government!
    They hated the idiotic and needless invasion of Afghanistan, a country that had little to do with the USSR’s security!
    They hated that the Communist elite’s in the USSR had all of the power and money!

    They hated the USSR with such a passion, that they became what they hated:
    Under W, they had started an oppressive regime – they called anyone who disagreed with them treasonous traitors!
    Nixon and W, spied on their perceived “enemies” – both foreign and domestic!
    Rove and W, worked to create, and then maintain, one-party rule!
    They rigged voting rules in certain states, and had “Free Speech Zones” for people to protest W and Cheney’s actions – far from where W and Cheney were, to avoid discomforting them!
    And, they idiotically and needlessly invaded, not only Afghanistan, but Iraq, too!
    Also too – they grew the wealth and power of our nation’s already wealthy and powerful elite – to the point where the poor remain poor, and the middle class is virtually destroyed, doing everything it can to avoid falling downwards into the poor, instead of rising upwards, like their parents and grandparents did.

    My words of caution to us Democrats is: “Be careful of what you hate and fear – lest you become what you hate and fear.”

    If the Republicans do somehow manage to keep painting themselves into the corners that leave them an isolated party, a party of an ever-dwindling minority, Democrats must beware of hubris.
    The hubris of the fall of the USSR, and the right wing’s attributing that to Reagan and Bush Sr, is what got them into the messes of W’s adminstration in the Middle East.

    Victory sometimes comes with aa cost, too.
    You may lose not only your vision of what you did, and why you try to do what you do, but your very soul, too.

  3. JR  •  Feb 15, 2013 @6:11 pm

    The republicans are tough on security. It’s their incompetence that’s the problem. But people choose decisiveness over competence in high-fear scenarios. Moreso with conservatives. That’s why they bitched about leaving Iraq – they saw it as us not having the “will” to execute our mission. The competence to acheive that mission was never questioned. Leaving Iraq would “look bad”. (Because staying was looking so good).

  4. Swami  •  Feb 15, 2013 @6:15 pm

    Boehner is bumping his gums with the sequestration rhetoric…Every one of the GOP and Democrat hogs have got most of their political fortunes invested in military dollars.. I don’t know how they are going to work out our financial woes, but when Obama got them to agree to putting the military budget on the chopping block along with social cuts.. He beat them at their own game. Now they got skin in the game.

    And Paulie didn’t vote for sequestration…He just voted for a mechanism. :) Paulie is so bright..

  5. fang  •  Feb 15, 2013 @7:23 pm

    A theory: the Republicans, being caught up in the Eternal Campaign, are now not able to think beyond bumper-sticker rhetoric and publicity stunts. They’re not only incapable of running the country, they’re unable to communicate to people outside of their own bubble. There’s not even an attempt to articulate military or defense strategy that isn’t about saying bad things about Obama and political stunts.

    They’re loosing ground as they’re decreasing their ability to even lie effectively to people outside of the bubble.

    Of course the Bush fiasco is part of it, and possibly why they’re resorting to even more bumperstickerism – otherwise they have more explaining to do.

  6. Stephen Stralka  •  Feb 15, 2013 @7:45 pm

    I agree with Greg Sargent that the GOP has jumped the shark here, but he could have been more succinct. What Boehner is saying is that the only way the Democrats can avoid the massive cuts in the sequester is to accept even more massive cuts. I would hope that the absurdity of this is self-evident.

  7. Bill Bush  •  Feb 15, 2013 @8:08 pm

    Does the Kaplan link work for anyone else? Or have I broken the internet?

  8. Chief  •  Feb 15, 2013 @9:50 pm

    The “Republican Party came to own defense issues” because Truman lost China.

    That is when it began, 1947 or 48, after Chaing Kai-Shek fled to Taiwan and the Communists took over China. Then Dems were very careful for 50 or so years. But, ironically, the Dems did not do anything to regain the confidence of the public. Bush and Iraq were the cause of the electorate losing faith in the Repubs.

  9. joanr16  •  Feb 16, 2013 @12:51 pm

    Bill, I got a WordPress login screen, is all.

  10. Kyle  •  Feb 16, 2013 @2:10 pm

    The “Republican Party came to own defense issues” because Truman lost China.

    Which always struck me as an inane and arrogant concept to begin with. How do you “lose” a country? When did the US previously “own” it?

  11. c u n d gulag  •  Feb 16, 2013 @4:11 pm

    Kyle,
    The REAL reason today’s GOP is angry with Truman, ain’t China – it’s the integration of the US military.

    Their real hatred of Truman grew exponentially after Nixon launched his “Southern Strategy,” and Reagan gave his campaign-launching “State’s Rights” speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi.



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