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The Des Moines Debate: No Surprises

State of the Union: Nikki Haley is not interested in peace. Who knew?

DES MOINES, IOWA - JANUARY 10:  Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and f

Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida and the former Governor Nikki Haley of Carolina faced off at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, five days before that state’s January 15 Republican caucus. Neither presidential hopeful had the kind of breakout moment that will propel them to the former President Donald Trump’s polling stratosphere, but a few good points were scored.

In particular, DeSantis underlined the problem with the Ukraine policy of the GOP’s war wing:

Here is the problem with what she’s saying. She—she doesn’t articulate how this comes to an end, except she was asked after the last debate by, I believe, Megyn Kelly, and she said, you bring to it an end by bringing Ukraine into NATO. But, of course, we’re a NATO country. So if you bring Ukraine into NATO, that puts the United States at war. Megyn said that to her, and then she basically gave a word salad as to how you go from there.... We’ve got homeless veterans. We have all these problems. This is the UN way of thinking that we’re somehow globalists and we have unlimited resources to do.

Yet it was what wasn’t said that was perhaps more significant. Neither candidate mentioned any kind of plan for drawing down American troop deployments in the Middle East or Africa, or addressed the particular American interests being pursued in Taiwan or the Levant. Each candidate hit the other for having out-of-touch social policy without advancing much by way of a positive platform.

Not a very edifying spectacle, and, worse, not very good TV. On the other hand, a certain former president seems to have had a pretty good night.