Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Nixon Line Is Not Pauline

Ron Paul's odious newsletters notwithstanding, Andrew Sullivan likes the GOP candidate's George McGovern-like foreign policy isolationism opposition to the U.S.'s tendency toward global hegemony -- and so does Jacob Heilbrunn, writing at "The National Interest," published by the Center Previously Known As Nixon. Pretty ironic, since in today's Iowa caucuses 37 would be supporting the candidate most susceptible to his favorite post-presidential talking point: If the U.S. won't lead in the world, who will? It's a good guess it would be someone proclaiming a world view somewhere between Rick Santorum's reckless militancy and Paul's whole-scale retreatancy. Anyway, Heilbrunn writes:
[T]he dominant foreign-policy wing of the Republican party...is focusing on a new war with Iran--as though any attempt to stop Iran short of bombing constitutes a new Munich. Sen. Rick Santorum, for example, has flatly said he would bomb Iran. Paul, by contrast, says that's nuts. The result is that the Republican debates have, at least when it comes to foreign affairs, actually seen the candidates debating with each other, or, to put it more precisely, with Ron Paul. It's Paul who blows the raspberry at everyone else in the debates. Say what you will about the man, the Iowa caucus would have been a lot more boring if he weren't around to enliven it.

More fundamentally, Paul, in all his crankiness, represents a budding debate inside the GOP that the party pooh-bahs will not be able to defer much longer. The truth is that the GOP has been peddling a schizophrenic approach to the federal government. On the one hand we are told that the growing size of the federal government is a very bad thing; on the other hand we are told that the very part of the government that is growing most quickly—the Pentagon, the intelligence agencies, Homeland Security—cannot be touched at all when it comes to budget cutting. Indeed, they are to be pampered and showered with even greater funding.

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