Over at Eunomia, Larison seems to be missing the forest for the trees by focusing so narrowly on Libya and whatever neocon nonsense about it was spewed in the last hour. Though he is absolutely right that McCain lost the election in the first debate, when he was desperately repeating the “we are all Georgians” mantra and upbraiding us to keep our eyes on the intrigues of the governing coalition in Ukraine. No question, the Republicans are in a cocoon when it comes to their arguments against Obama’s foreign policy, but to dismiss it as such so airily does it a disservice.
The Republican Primary is already shaping up to be an unsightly mess with possibly as many as 14 candidates in the first debate, assuming that’s in May or June. Trying to handicap at this stage is therefore the height of folly, but really it doesn’t matter, because the major theme of the campaign has already emerged: “Obama surrendered to Islamofascism!” Because even the right already knows how this movie will end, with the Fifth Fleet leaving the Gulf with its tail between its legs and Israel forced to negotiate one man-one vote, the hunt for the enemy within has already begun in earnest.
I agree that in all likelihood this apocalypticism will fall flat in a general election and ensure Obama an easy re-election, but that doesn’t mean things won’t get very, very, ugly — recall that Nixon’s landslide in ’72 nevertheless took place in a toxic political environment.
It is most amusing however to witness the desperation with which the neocons are confronting the situation. John Podhoretz and various B-listers are panicking at the sight of such a weak Republican field, and their rhetoric eerily recalls the Democrats in 2003 and 2004, in what was widely labeled “Bush Derangement Syndrome”. But while the Democrats’ derangement (as opposed to the principled leftists) was about precious little more than who would appoint the successor to Sandra Day O’Connor, the neocons see their whole world collapsing around them. Which, naturally, leads Bill Kristol to remind us that he is one of only six people who still thinks American entry into World War I was a good idea.
Obama is nothing more than the object of blame for the larger forces bringing about the fall of the American empire, and of Israel as a Jewish state, of which he has little to no agency — I have always insisted on this point to opponents of the empire as well as with respect to the neocons. In the end it makes no difference, except perhaps at the margins on Election Night, whether the bearer of these slings is a lightweight windbag like Romney or Pawlenty, a genuine whack-job like Palin or Gingrich, or a true believer like Santorum or John Bolton.