Lee Smith can’t be serious:
Romney should not actually have much trouble outflanking Obama on foreign policy.
Smith proceeds to urge Romney to take a more openly hawkish position on Syria, as if committing himself to some form of intervention in another country’s civil war is a clever maneuver rather than a needless self-inflicted wound. Any deeper U.S. involvement in Syria is extremely unpopular, but that isn’t the only reason or the most important reason why doing this would be a huge mistake for Romney. For one thing, proposals for military intervention in Syria are all very flawed, and it would hardly help Romney to establish his credibility on foreign policy by once again embracing more aggressive and militarized policies that no one apart from the most hawkish interventionists favors. All of the existing proposals for U.S. intervention or U.S. military support for the opposition would ensure a greater humanitarian disaster and more regional instability, and Romney would be shooting himself in the foot to endorse any of them.
Like foreign policy issues in general, talking about Syria would be a distraction from what Romney wants to be campaigning on, and it would draw attention to his lack of experience. Romney certainly has no qualms about second-guessing the administration’s decisions on foreign policy, but he tends to blunder and overreach when he does this. He is already less trusted than Obama on international affairs, and more hawkishness on Syria is just going to widen that trust gap. Following the WSJ/Post/Weekly Standard line on Syria will undoubtedly get Romney some friendly editorials, but it gains him nothing with the broader electorate. If Romney were to take a more openly hawkish position on Syria, he would also be doing exactly what the Obama campaign wants, which is to help them portray him as the reckless hawk that he otherwise generally claims to be. They justifiably had a field day with his blunder on Russia, and he really can’t afford to keep giving them such easy targets.