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Three More Hawks Join the 2016 Race

Michael Brendan Dougherty is underwhelmed [1] by the entry of three more candidates to the presidential race this week:

So has the addition of this week’s candidates added to the ferment of ideas? No, not really.

Besides the sheer number of candidates, the lack of new or creative thinking may be the most remarkable aspect of the ever-growing Republican field. One might think that in a wide-open contest after eight years since the last, failed Republican president, there would be more candidates proposing to take the party in at least a slightly different direction. As it is, there might be one or two out of more than a dozen that have suggested making a few substantive changes. That doesn’t apply to any of the candidates that are making their official announcements this week. Carson and Fiorina make a point of saying that they are not professional politicians, and there may be something to be said for that, but then any benefit that the party might get from these candidates is mostly lost when their policy views are indistinguishable from the rest. As for Huckabee [2], we have seen in recent years how his turn as a talk show host has eliminated [3] most of the things that set him apart from the others. The profusion of Republican candidates would be significantly more interesting and more useful to the party and the country if they were likely to offer a variety of policy arguments, but we already have good reason to expect that this won’t be the case. It just means that the echo chamber will be more cacophonous than usual.

This is especially true on foreign policy. Carson may have stumbled in his interview [4] with Hugh Hewitt earlier this year, but as far as his positions are concerned he is interchangeable with any other hawkish candidate. He may or may not know which countries belong to NATO, but he knows that the U.S. should be “strengthening” NATO. Huckabee’s goofy rattlesnake video [5] speaks for itself. Fiorina is citing [6] her time as a corporate executive and her travel overseas in an attempt to bolster her otherwise non-existent foreign policy credentials, but on the issues she recites the standard hawkish talking points just like any other candidate. In that respect, all three of these candidates don’t really add anything to debate except to echo what the other candidates are already saying.

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20 Comments To "Three More Hawks Join the 2016 Race"

#1 Comment By balconesfault On May 5, 2015 @ 12:23 pm

Will 3 more candidates calling Obama a weakling abroad and a tyrant at home … and calling Hillary a corrupt evil incompetent b**** on all fronts … make any difference?


#2 Comment By SmoothieX12 (aka Andrew) On May 5, 2015 @ 1:23 pm

The main question is-can US produce a serious (that is not fringe)candidate who IS NOT a hawk (in whatever varieties hawks come)? I think it can not anymore. Which, corresponds very well with what ever brilliant Bacevich stated in his review today (yesterday).

#3 Comment By collin On May 5, 2015 @ 1:24 pm

Yea, but what is there opinion on Jade Helm 15 and the US takeover Texas? At this point the Republican Party should tell their candidates to shut down on this one before it becomes a gotcha question for the primary.

So the Republican debate stage on foreign policy is going to have ~15 candidates debating on who loves Israel the most and bomb Iran the fastest. (And nothing on say Mexico, Canada, India, or Brazil and platitudes on China currency.) My prediction the debate devolves into a Monty Python sketch looks better every day.

#4 Comment By Commenter Man On May 5, 2015 @ 1:32 pm

The party is tied so closely to the wealthy or (chicken)hawks or religious fundamentalists. There is also a fair amount of paranoia in the way they interpret words or actions (for example, the talk about military takeover of Texas). So, presenting even a slightly different viewpoint risks losing support from one or more of a major constituent group.

#5 Comment By Uncle Billy On May 5, 2015 @ 2:51 pm

The early primary debates will be contests as to who is most willing to do whatever Bibi Netanyahu tells them to do. All of the candidates will fall all over each other trying to please Sheldon Adelson, which is useless, because they will never please him. The net result is that there will be no serious foreign policy debate; just barbs at Obama and praise for Israel.

Huckabee seems to think that gay marriage is the cause of any and all domestic problems, from our high out of wedlock birth rate to our crumbling infrastructure. It will be interesting to see how Huck’s populism plays with Wall St.

#6 Comment By Ed Ward On May 5, 2015 @ 2:55 pm

I don’t think any candidate who is in the least bit reasonable on foreign policy issues can survive the inevitable AIPAC et al reaction to his candidacy.

#7 Comment By SmoothieX12 (aka Andrew) On May 5, 2015 @ 4:43 pm

@Ed Ward

Not everything can be blamed on, however malignantly, influential AIPAC. American exceptionalism and mythology didn’t appear after the formation of AIPAC–it all came much much earlier. Neo-cons merely utilized what was already there, what Andrew Bacevich calls “systemic flaws”, and which yours truly wrote about on TACs boards for years now.

#8 Comment By Just Dropping By On May 5, 2015 @ 4:55 pm

Fiorina is the most baffling candidate to enter the race. With Jeb Bush in the race, there’s already not much breathing room to try to be the “the moneyed interests” candidate, she has no experience in elected office, she’s too rich to care about getting a Fox news gig or other grifting opportunities, and, given her record from running for office in California, there is no way she can try to posture as the “true” conservative in the race. All I can think of is that she wants the VP nomination and figures that, with HRC almost certainly getting the Democratic nomination, the Republicans will feel forced to nominate a female VP. However, since Jeb is basically guaranteed the presidential nomination, I would have to think that even if he wanted a female VP, he’d feel obliged to pick someone with better conservative credentials to try to help with voter enthusiasm.

#9 Comment By Just Dropping By On May 5, 2015 @ 5:11 pm

P.S. I’d forgotten this momentarily, but if Fiorina somehow gets traction in the early polling, I would be curious as to how fast the footage of her appearance at the Hispanic 100 award gala back in 2010 will start appearing in her rivals’ attack ads: [7]

#10 Comment By CharleyCarp On May 5, 2015 @ 5:12 pm

You know, it doesn’t matter what they say. Once Obama puts Texas under martial law this summer, the 2016 elections will be cancelled.

#11 Comment By Mr. Unpopularity On May 5, 2015 @ 5:42 pm

Apparently the GOP wants to be seen as the party of perpetual war. Who are sane Republicans supposed to vote for?

#12 Comment By a spencer On May 5, 2015 @ 7:09 pm

Uncle Billy,
>>The early primary debates will be contests as to who is most willing to do whatever Bibi Netanyahu tells them to do.

I hope this happens. Maybe more people will ask, “well, why don’t they just run him?”

Just Dropping By,
re: Fiorina. I’m wondering if/when a Republican challenger charges her with shipping jobs overseas.

Also, and I have no idea what her standing is or how the base would respond and someone will correct me if I’m way off, but I could see Jeb turning to Susana Martinez. She did speak right before Paul Ryan at the last convention.

Then there’s this: where will the GOP cut off entry into the debates – polls, financials, individual donors – in a ridiculously large field?

#13 Comment By Cfountain72 On May 5, 2015 @ 7:37 pm

We’ll see how she does in the debates, but ask any HP employee what they think if Ms. Fiorina and you’ll likely get an angry earful. Let’s just say her corporate credentials are even less impressive than Romney’s.

Peace be with you.

#14 Comment By Cfountain72 On May 5, 2015 @ 7:38 pm

Rush always jokingly referred to his audience as ‘clones’. And now it looks like they’ve all grown up and decide to run for office.

Peace be with you.

#15 Comment By Bob On May 5, 2015 @ 8:11 pm

In a way, this would be fantastic, hawks fighting each other to see who can be craziest, if only there were some non-hawk who might emerge from the fray.

#16 Comment By a spencer On May 5, 2015 @ 9:20 pm

Snapshot, May 5, according to United Kingdom bookmakers as aggregated by oddschecker. For entertainment purposes only:

Rodham is still even odds to win the general. You might find her at 2/7 to win the party nomination if you’re lucky.

As you’re aware, she’s been a beaten favorite. Her closest competition among Democrats is Warren at 8-1. Biden, O’Malley 17-1. Webb is 33-1. Sanders 50-1, though some have dropped him to 12, as he’s the only other current option. There are decent, albeit milquetoast, long shots if Sanders was able to significantly hold Rodham to account on any number of matters but not unify the party, including Schweitzer, Klobuchar, Baldwin, Bayh, Warner. heh – Gerry Brown? Al Gore vs. Jeb Bush?

Bush 2-1 for nomination; 4-1 General Election
Walker 4-1 nom; 11-1 GE
Rubio 11/2 nom; 8-1 GE
Paul 7-1 nom; 20-1 GE, but as low as 12 – according to RealClearPolitics’ poll aggregator, Paul stacks up better nationally against Rodham than any of these, including state by state it seems, perhaps due to the influence of young independents who wouldn’t consider any of the rest of the Republicans. If the establishment rejects him and he did the ‘unthinkable’, running third party, he’d need to take Texas away from Bush (or Cruz)

Cruz 12-1 nom; 33-1 GE
Huckabee 18-1 nom; 33/66-1
Christie 7-1 but shoots up to 25; GE – anywhere from 18 to 50-1. UK bookmakers seem flummoxed as to how he plays outside the Northeast Megalopolis.

these get 20-1 GOP nom for officially showing up or acting like it:
Perry 50/80-1 GE
Fiorina 66-1 GE
Jindal 33/150-1 GE

Bloomberg 25-1 GOP nom
McDonnell 25-1 nom
Ryan 25-1 nom
Portman 25-1 nom
Carson 25-1; 66/80-1 GE, but an offer of 10-1.
Palin 33-1 nom
Rice 33-1 nom
Kasich 25 to 40-1 nom
Romney 40-1, only one offer; more offers in the general at 25/50-1
Bolton 50-1 nom

for what its worth. Either way, no matter the candidate, overseas, Democrats are 4/7 favorites to retain the White House.

#17 Comment By sean On May 6, 2015 @ 8:52 am

“As it is, there might be one or two out of more than a dozen that have suggested making a few substantive changes.”

And that’s why Rand Paul needs to seriously consider skipping this one because he’s one of the few who has some disagreement with the other candidates as much as he plays down those disagreements. Instead they will be given intense focus by the media because, after all, well else divides Republicans? One against 19 on a debate stage is not exactly good odds, especially if the one shamelessly tries to pretend he’s really one of the 20.

As much Fiorina’s candidacy seems ridiculous, there is a method to her madness. Of the only things which divides Republican is trivialities, then she has as good a chance to succeed as any of them given the fact she is a woman looking to take on Hilary Clinton directly and there’s a subset of GOP primary voters smitten with this concept. Ben Carson also has the same “diversity” strength as well given how Alan Keyes and Herman Cain proved there are any number of movement conservatives entranced with the idea making any black man regardless of electoral history or experience i.e none, the GOP nominee.

#18 Comment By steve in ohio On May 6, 2015 @ 10:01 am

Rand Paul would be wise to play up the differences on FP rather than trying to be hawk lite. If Rand falters, non interventionists and realists will have to take a chance on somebody who could be a closet non hawkish FP adherent. Perhaps Scott Walker could surprise us as Wisconsin has a great historical legacy of politicians who wanted us to mind our own business (Joe M was not your typical WI politician.) I like Walker on immigration and believe he may be a true believing conservative who can actually win.

#19 Comment By Barry On May 6, 2015 @ 3:57 pm

What’s really amazed me is that the GOP is heading right to a repeat of the Klown Kar from 2012, with a bunch of crazies dominating the stage.

#20 Comment By Just Dropping By On May 6, 2015 @ 4:09 pm

@ a spencer in re Christie’s odds: I’ve noticed that in previous presidential elections UK and Irish bookies heavily overrate the chances of various Northeastern Republican candidates (e.g., Giuliani, Pataki, etc.) to win the GOP primaries relative to what I think most well-informed American observers would wager. My best guess is that they genuinely do not understand how unhinged from reality a substantial part of the Republican primary electorate has become over the last 20 years or so.