Jonathan Bernstein comments on what he calls Romney’s “astounding exaggeration on Iran”:
Which raises two broader points. One is that there really does seem to be a divide within the Republican Party between a more cautious and traditional foreign policy approach, and the kind of of bellicose and grandiose national security thinking that still, apparently, sees the Iraq War as a great success. Which side is Romney with? That’s a good question for the next reporter who gets a chance to sit down with him.
It is a good question, but Romney’s answer on Iran would already give us a good idea of how he would respond. Let’s not forget that Romney’s expression of his complete and lack of respect for the Constitution and representative government came in response to a question about Bill Kristol’s support for a Congressional authorization for the use of force against Iran. Romney has adopted a position on executive power and military action that distinguishes him as more hawkish and less restrained than Bill Kristol. That being the case, is there really any doubt at this point about which side Romney takes in the intra-party policy debate?
Bernstein is partly right that Romney has been able to keep his positions vague, but there have been several occasions when he has stated with startling clarity exactly what he intends to do (or not do). He will wreck the relationship with Russia, he won’t negotiate with the Taliban, and he will be more likely to order an attack on Iran (and he believes he can do this on his own authority). The trouble is that Romney makes statements that seem so far removed from reality that journalists and pundits usually just shrug their shoulders and dismiss it as campaign hyperbole. They say to themselves, “No one could be foolish enough to do what he says he’ll do!” Romney has been able to brush off a series of foreign policy blunders that would normally be considered major liabilities if they had been made by someone who was supposed to know what he was talking about. Romney’s inexperience and incompetence on foreign policy have become very effective political shields.