This bit from Norm Ornstein’s analysis of the internal politics of the GOP is just a lazy assertion:
And while some Southern Republicans such as Lindsey Graham remain fierce internationalists, the South, and the House, have become the epicenter of anti-defense and anti-diplomacy isolationism typified now by border Senator Rand Paul.
As a description of Paul’s views, this is wrong for all the usual reasons, and as an analysis of where the antiwar and non-interventionist Republicans are it is very misleading. There are some antiwar Republicans from the South and in the House, such as Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina, but there are a lot more hawks and interventionists. Judging from Ron Paul’s support in the 2012 primaries, there is less support in Southern Republican electorates for a non-interventionist and antiwar message than among Republican voters in other parts of the country. To the extent that all House members are more responsive to their constituents’ views, there is probably a higher percentage of House Republicans opposed to intervention in Syria compared to Republicans in the Senate. That is not because House Republicans are preoccupied with “ideological purity and tribal politics” in this particular case, but because their voters are so averse to greater involvement in Syria than the representatives feel compelled to break ranks with their party’s hard-liners and ideologues.
If Ornstein thinks that an increase in so-called “anti-defense and anti-diplomacy isolationism” among Republicans is an obstacle to “building a durable, competitive national party base to win presidential and Senate majorities,” he is badly misreading the public’s mood on foreign policy. Perhaps because his description of Paul’s views is such an absurd caricature, he fails to recognize that moving away from an aggressive and overly militarized foreign policy is likely to broaden the party’s national appeal. One of the GOP’s political weaknesses is the accurate perception that it will reflexively support increased military spending and foreign wars. Insofar as the GOP’s foreign policy is identified with the “fierce” internationalism of a Lindsey Graham, a majority will be able to write the party off as reckless and irresponsible on these issues for many years to come.
As for supposedly being “anti-diplomacy,” it isn’t non-interventionists and realists that continually portray most kinds of diplomatic engagement as betrayal, appeasement, or some other form of villainy. On the contrary, they are the ones that favor engagement with other governments in order to reduce tensions and lessen the chance of conflict.