In Tuesday’s Grand Old Party debate, Ron Paul, the libertarian congressman from Texas, was as shrilly anti-war as ever, saying he wasn’t concerned about any threat to America, only “overreaction on our part” around the world. Jon Huntsman, the moderate in the race, wanted wholesale troop withdrawals immediately: “We don’t need to nation-build in Afghanistan when this nation so desperately needs to be built.”
But Paul, for all the manic fervency of his supporters, remains an outlier in the Republican race. If you read nothing but glossy magazines and watch only network television, you’d think that Huntsman was the Republican frontrunner. In the real world, he’s still polling at barely over two percent.
The rest of the Republican field is, as an approving William Kristol put it, “a flock of hawks”. The debate confirmed that the emotional heart of the party is now not that different from the place it was when the US invaded Iraq in 2003.
It is the curse of Democrats that no matter what they do much of the electorate always views them as foreign policy wimps. Obama has done much to alienate the Left and has continued many of the Bush policies he so loftily denounced in 2008. But despite his hawkish moments, for many voters Obama’s doveish tone and condescending pronouncements about America are coming home to roost.