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Hawks Swinging Wildly at Obama’s “Glass Jaw” on Foreign Policy

Dave Weigel reports:

How much do Republicans want to keep worrying the foreign policy issue? I know of at least one GOP group that’s going to buy a few million dollars of ads on foreign policy, midway through October, to smack Obama. The theory is that the media’s built him a glass jaw, and no one’s ever taken a hard swing at it.

If this is what some Republicans still believe, they are going to be throwing away their money. Let’s say that these ads “smack” Obama on something–what are they going to say? Republicans have not been reluctant to try to take hard swings at Obama on foreign policy. Quite the opposite. They’ve been swinging hard and wildly for years. The problem is that their swings never connect, and their criticisms are usually so overwrought or inaccurate that they never register with anyone outside their own party. Most Americans don’t trust their party, and Republican hawks have done nothing to earn back that lost trust. Republican hawks don’t understand why they’re losing on foreign policy because they can’t admit that Obama isn’t Carter and they can’t or won’t acknowledge that the Iraq war was a debacle. They also don’t realize that their reputation is in tatters because of their own Carter-like administration, and it isn’t helped by their belligerent Dukakis-like nominee. So they’re stuck drawing strained comparisons to the hostage crisis that even they probably don’t find credible. What’s excruciating is that the hawks keep turning to stale Carter mockery in the hope that it will save the day for them.

Weigel comments that Obama’s address to the U.N. General Assembly contained banalities and repetition from previous speeches. He’s right about that, but what in the speech opens him up to a foreign policy attack that would affect public opinion? If Obama’s remarks on Syria were boilerplate that hasn’t changed since last year, how does that change the way most Americans view his foreign policy? Only a very small minority of Americans favors military intervention or directly arming the opposition in Syria (and support for a no-fly zone seems to be based on not understanding what a no-fly zone involves), so what is the audience for an attack on Obama’s Syria position?

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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