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Debunking Rubio’s Exaggerated Reputation on Foreign Policy

Michael Brendan Dougherty doesn’t think much of Marco Rubio’s reputation as a foreign policy expert:

Rubio has a reputation for foreign policy expertise because he chooses to talk about foreign policy often, promises large budgets to the Pentagon, and mostly pronounces the words correctly. Rubio’s foreign policy consists of babyish moralizing, a cultivated ignorance of history, and a deliberate blindness to consequences.

Dougherty probably could have gone on at much greater length listing examples of Rubio’s poor judgment on foreign policy, but he was constrained by a word limit. I havemade many of thesamepointsover the last few years, so of course I agree with Dougherty’s harsh but accurate appraisal of Rubio’s record. That appraisal raises the question: if Rubio is as overrated on foreign policy as Dougherty says (and he is), what else does he have to offer as a presidential candidate except perhaps an appealing story about his family? In other words, if Rubio’s foreign policy reputation is a sham, what possible reason would anyone have to support him for president?

Foreign policy is supposed to be Rubio’s calling card, as it is supposed to be Lindsey Graham’s, but this has more to do with the politician’s undeserved high opinion of his own understanding of these issues than it does with a record of competence or good judgment. There are naturally hard-liners that agree with Rubio’s positions, and so they flatter him for his alleged expertise. That doesn’t mean very much, since these hard-liners are happy as long as a politician mouths the correct phrases and passes their ideological tests. Rubio isn’t just a predictable hard-liner on everything from Cuba to Iran to Russia, but his arguments frequently don’t even pass the laugh test. In the end, I suspect that not even most hard-liners would want to have him as their candidate.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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