At a moment when Barack Obama fully owns American foreign policy and is being attacked from the left, you'd think Republicans would see a golden opportunity to reach back into their isolationist past, and also tap into their present-day advocacy of smaller government, in order to join the lefty pile-on.
But old Republican habits die hard:
... in broad terms, the conversation generated by the confirmation hearing of John O. Brennan, [President Obama's] nominee for C.I.A. director, underscored the degree to which Mr. Obama has embraced some of Mr. Bush's approach to counterterrorism, right down to a secret legal memo authorizing presidential action unfettered by outside forces.Righties just can't let go of their knee-jerk tendency to see any Democrat as America-hating and weak-willed. It may be doing them less good than at any time in the past forty years, but it still fires up the base -- you know, the folks who still think Hanoi Jane urinal stickers are hilariously incisive social commentary.
At the same time, a separate hearing in Congress revealed how far Mr. Obama has gone to avoid what he sees as Mr. Bush's central mistake. Testimony indicated that the president had overruled his secretaries of state and defense and his military commanders when they advised arming rebels in Syria....
Critics on the left saw abuse of power, and critics on the right saw passivity.
Even accountability-free Obama-style Death From Above isn't enough for these folks:
Particularly stark has been the secret memo authorizing the targeted killing of American citizens deemed terrorists under certain circumstances without judicial review, a memo that brought back memories of those in which John Yoo, a Justice Department official under Mr. Bush, declared harsh interrogation legal.He still thinks it's a legal matter rather than a war when he's incinerating people! Pansy!
... Some called Mr. Obama a hypocrite. But Mr. Yoo himself saw it differently, arguing in The Wall Street Journal that the memo, whatever the surface similarities to his own, betrayed a flawed vision because it presented the issue in law enforcement terms rather than as an exercise of war powers.
Which is why Rand Paul is going to find himself just as marginalized as his dad was when he runs for president in 2016, if he keeps talking like this:
Senator Paul ... tried this week, in a talk at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, to become the voice of a new vision of Republican foreign policy....If Obama, after all he's done to be the anti-McGovern, is still damned as a treasonous appeaser by the likes of Liz Cheney and Bill Kristol, then how does Rand Paul expect to get this past GOP primary voters in the next election cycle? Especially if he's not only rejecting star-spangled war but also questioning the defense industry's inalienable right to massive Pentagon boondoggles?
Senator Paul said that he agreed with those who say that "Western occupation fans the flames of radical Islam." ... With the debt crisis, the United States simply can't afford all its current and possible future military interventions. Fiscal conservatism, by this line of thinking, means peace.
Just as his father made "Audit the Fed" a popular cause, Senator Paul told me in January, "I think I can do the same with 'Audit the Pentagon'" and fold defense cuts into his party's conception of fiscal responsibility.
If Rand seems to have a shot in a divided field, the GOP establishment, led by phony tough guy Roger Ailes at Fox News, will destroy him. But Rand won't have a shot -- he's less reflexively anti-war than his father, which means he'll impress fewer kids, yet he's still too much of a war skeptic to inspire anything but outrage among angry white men who've watched Fox continuously since the 1990s.
So buh-bye, President-Wannabe Rand. Nice knowing you.