The place we have reached in our political discussions is really a shame. Here I’m not talking about disagreements between parties. I am talking about the current GOP primary. It isn’t enough that you disagree with a person’s views, the person, themselves, and anyone who supports that person must be discredited and made odious. There are a lot of good reasons, for instance, to really dislike Donald Trump. But we can’t be satisfied with disliking Trump. His supporters have to be racists, neo-Nazis, dimwits, Democrat trolls, nativists, and all manner and means of odious. These attacks, in particular, puzzle me because their source is the same GOP establishment that used exactly, precisely the same attacks on supporters of Chris McDaniel in his attempt to [mc_name name=’Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C000567′ ]e off spend more time with his mistress. In fact, some of the loudest voices on this count are the same people who professed to be outraged by the attacks on McDaniel. Anyway, the same people who started the attacks on Trump are now making similar attacks on [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ].
The setup. [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] and [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ] have been taking shots at each other over foreign policy. Rubio has called Cruz an isolationist and because of his vote to kill NSA’s metadata collection program, he has also called him weak on national security. Cruz has said Rubio is as fond of intervention as Hillary Clinton. Depending upon where you stand, you can agree with either or both of them.
In a Bloomberg interview, Cruz had this to say:
On Syria, Cruz inveighed against Rubio and Clinton, Obama’s former secretary of state, for supporting a no-fly zone and arming “the so-called moderate rebels.” “I think none of that makes any sense. In my view, we have no dog in the fight of the Syrian civil war,” he said, arguing that Rubio and Clinton “are repeating the very same mistakes they made in Libya. They’ve demonstrated they’ve learned nothing.”
“The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend,” Cruz said. “If the Obama administration and the Washington neo-cons succeed in toppling [Bashar al-] Assad, Syria will be handed over to radical Islamic terrorists. ISIS will rule Syria.”
As another example, he said the Obama administration’s support for overthrowing Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak—a dictator opposed by his people but longstanding U.S. ally—led to the Muslim Brotherhood government, which fell in 2013.
Cruz said his decision-making test on military action would be about whether there’s a “real threat” to American security. On foreign policy, he said he’ll employ a simple test: “How does it keep America safe? If it’s keeping America safe, we should do it. If it’s making America more vulnerable, we shouldn’t do it.”
I’m not going to get into whether Cruz’s view is right — though, in regards to Syria he is as close to right as you can be — or even if it accurately portrays Rubio’s. In fact, I suspect that I am much closer to Rubio than Cruz on military intervention. In regards to Syria and Libya, I’m sort of the way that Dennis Miller described German reluctance to get involved in Iraq, “Maybe they don’t agree with the war [or] maybe it’s not on a grand enough scale.” And personally, I am not a big fan of the word “neo-con” because it is often used as a term to cut off debate, but I do accept that it is a convenient shorthand for military intervention, democracy promotion, and nation building and you’d have to be an idiot to not acknowledge that those concepts are looked askance by significant swathes of America, left and right. Though I believe that our long term security is best served by democracy promotion and nation building I am unconvinced that the Democrats care about our security and therefore we cannot make the multi-year, indeed, multi-generational commitment necessary to transform cultures. And if we can’t do that, we are better off not starting.
But the fact is that this is a national debate we haven’t had about the Obama administration’s egregious douchebaggery in the Middle East. It is a serious issue and two serious men have different views.
But, because [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] is upsetting the establishment apple cart, we can’t simply have the debate. We have to try to discredit the man AND make his view discreditable. This from the National Review, which year after year becomes more and more the voice of establishment smug know-nothingness:
By the end of George W. Bush’s second term in office, the term “neoconservative,” once widely used to describe the hawkish foreign-policy views held by several of the president’s most senior advisers, had become radioactive. As critics began using it to describe a cadre of like-minded Jews who had allegedly hijacked American foreign policy and driven the U.S. to war in Iraq, it took on a conspiratorial tinge.
So when [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ], on the campaign trail in Iowa and again in an interview with Bloomberg News, recently pointed the finger at “neocons” in an attempt to defend his own understanding of American interests abroad, the response among some conservative foreign-policy experts — many of whom the term has been used to disparage — was of shock, anger, and dismay. “He knows that the term in the usual far-left and far-right parlance means warmonger, if not warmongering Jewish advisers, so it is not something he should’ve done,” says Elliott Abrams, a former Bush administration National Security Council official and a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
“It’s an epithet. It’s always used pejoratively. And the main thing I resent about it is, it’s a label, it’s a way of avoiding arguments,” says Eliot Cohen, a Bush administration State Department official and a professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.
Another former Bush administration Defense Department official says simply, “It was a dog whistle.”
Dick Cheney is Jewish? Who knew?
These are supposed to be serious people. All of them. The reporters. The editor that approved this balderdash. The people who agreed to be quoted on and off the record. As Ben Domenech says at The Federalist:
If Elliott Abrams and the rest of the critics quoted in that National Review piece are so afraid of debate about foreign policy within the context of the election that they are willing to engage in rank accusations of outright unhinged racism just for bringing up a widely accepted term for their ideology, it shows the degree to which the foreign policy establishment of the GOP has existed with a level of insulation unacceptable in every other area of policy. Ask yourself: Who’s really interested in avoiding arguments here – the Senator raising an issue, or the policy experts accusing him of anti-Semitism at the drop of a hat?
If there is going to be a foreign policy debate, people who think that Obama and Hillary were generally right, and clearly Rubio falls in this camp, have to explain, with some specificity, how their actions would have differed. Given the virtual collapse of the US-created-backed-trained Free Syria Army, the issue of US ground troops is going to be part of that debate. By the same token, if you don’t think we should have supported what was a popular uprising in Syria, you owe some answers on how your treatment of the popular unrest in Iran would have differed from Obama’s. These are fair questions. What isn’t fair is painting a candidate and a strategy as anti-Semitic.
Maybe those who have been howling for Cruz to disavow comments by Trump should demand Rubio disavow these comments?