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How Is the GOP like the Bourbons?

Go to my TAC colleague Daniel Larison’s blog to read several entries eviscerating Marco Rubio’s ultrahawkish speech at Brookings yesterday. It is gobsmacking that in 2012, after the Iraq experience, a major candidate for leadership in the Republican Party can deliver a speech so devoid of reflection on the lessons of the hubristic universalism of his party’s foreign policy. For example, this graf:

I always start by reminding people that what happens all over the world is our business. Every aspect of our lives is directly impacted by global events. The security of our cities is connected to the security of small hamlets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Our cost of living, the safety of our food , and the value of the things we invent, make and sell are just a few examples of everyday aspects of our lives that are directly related to events abroad and make it impossible for us to focus only on our issues here are home.

Compare to Bush’s second inaugural address, in 2005:

We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world. America’s vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one.

Conor Friedersdorf notices a strange Rubio omission: the word “Iraq”:

Says Michael Brendan Dougherty, “Rubio’s speech is a remarkable political document. It shows that some Senators have learned nothing from the past decade.” He’s mostly right, but there is one important caveat. The interventionists have apparently learned to stop acknowledging the Iraq War, for their vague generalities about America’s role in the world cannot survive a confrontation with a decade of costly, catastrophic intervention. Better to pretend the debacle never happened, even while ratcheting up the rhetoric about Syria and Iran.

This guy, Rubio, is supposed to be the great hope of the GOP? If a man with this foreign policy view, a conservative who cannot bring himself to acknowledge the Iraq debacle and its lessons for going forward, is chosen to run with Mitt Romney, I think we’ll know pretty much all we need to know about the wisdom of voting Republican this fall. It’s like the last 10 years have disappeared down the memory hole. The same people and same thinking that led to this mess still run the Republican Party; look at Mitt Romney’s foreign policy team. As Talleyrand said of the Bourbon monarchs, so too we should say of the GOP: “They learned nothing, and forgot nothing.” 

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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