It’s Crunch Time for Republican Realists
Less than a year ago, just 18 percent of GOPers said that the United States does “too little” when it comes to helping solve the world’s problems, according to a Pew Research Center poll. Today, that number has more than doubled, to 46 percent.
Over that same span—from November to today—the percentage of Republicans who say the United States does “too much” has dropped from 52 percent to 37 percent, and those who say the United States does about the right amount has declined from 26 percent to 14 percent.
As with proposals to reform popular entitlement programs, GOP voters appear to have a low pain threshold. “Take it out of the other guy’s hide” thus has its foreign-policy equivalent: “Dovish, when all is quiet.”
Unlike during Obama’s first term, when realism looked both easy and wise, all is no longer quiet. Now, realism is hard. The relentless-seeming barrage of bad news from the Middle East and Eastern Europe meets with troubling equanimity from the White House. Vox’s Max Fisher describes the president’s long-view restraint and “stubborn optimism” this way:
This may be the closest that Obama, in his second term, has come to a foreign policy doctrine: everything will work out in the end, and America needs to resist the impulse to overreact to today’s crises abroad. This confidence is alarming to US foreign policy elites—in part because it is so different from the reactive, crisis-to-crisis leadership that Americans are used to. It flows out of Obama’s commitment to restraint; to avoiding the disastrous overreach of not just George W. Bush, but of an entire string of Cold War presidents who mired the US in one conflict after another.
A realist-minded GOPer will be forced to make a similar case—as much against the centrist-hawkish chirpers sitting in the dugout of the Washington press corps as to his own base.
Daniel Larison worries, rightly, that Gov. Chris Christie is all swagger and no substance and “all too representative of his party’s elites.”
But the party regulars are reconciling themselves to swagger.
I say buckle up for more of the kind of fun depicted above.