A foreign policy election it is
Oh for goodness sakes:
As Mitt Romney’s supporters push the idea that the 2012 Republican nominee might run for president again, one of their core talking points is that Romney was a foreign policy prophet in the last campaign. His vindication on several scores, they argue, gives him a rationale to run again — and a leg up on his potential Republican rivals.
“The results of the Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama foreign policy have been devastating,” Romney declared at the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting in San Diego on Friday. “The world is not safer.”
But, as Democrats point out, any losing candidate can cherry-pick a few issues that later broke his way. And Romney’s batting average was hardly perfect. Nor do bragging rights on a few specific issues necessarily translate to a popular foreign policy vision overall.
How pathetic. First of all, the world is always getting more and less dangerous in various ways and anyone running against an incumbent is going to claim that what their rival is doing will make the world less safe. Whatever. But the pathetic part of this is that Romney is actually going to claim some foreign policy expertise on that basis when his only experience with it was when he was in Paris during the Vietnam War and when he greeted Russian athletes during the Utah Olympics. In the last election his most memorable foreign policy moment was being taken downtown by Candy Crowley in a debate. This is not his strong suit and the fact that he thinks it's a big selling point to have said Barack Obama was wrong about something in 2012 makes it so is well ... pathetic.
It does signal something I have thought was an true for a while, however. This is going to be a foreign policy election. There are a few reasons for that. The first is that the economy is slowly recovering and it doesn't have the immediate salience it had in 2012 and in the latter days of the 2008 elections. People are tired of hearing about it. And anyway, national security elections are sexier in any case. They make people feel stimulated rather than ennervated like depressing campaigns about an economy that's barely chugging along. National security is a fantastic distraction from the ongoing underlying anxiety of a society riven by big economic forces that can only be fixed with some very difficult political solutions. Much better to have people shouting USA! USA! in the streets.
Finally, it stands to reason that the prospect of the first woman nominee being a Democrat would make the Republicans pull out all the stops to out-macho her. They do that with men, even war heroes, so they are licking their chops at the prospect of a campaign designed to show that a woman isn't capable of keeping the country safe. And sadly, they have good reason to do that:
If they can pick off a few men who might vote for a Democrat if it weren't for the fact that a woman was on the ticket they think they can win. And they might. But they need issues that speak to these underlying attitudes. National security is the issue that puts a woman at her greatest disadvantage. Hillary Clinton has plenty of experience but these weaknesses are due to ancient stereotypes which play into GOP hands. This is why they flogged Benghazi! so hard even though it made little sense: just preparing the battlefield.
I always said that I thought the first woman president would have to be a Republican to overcome this. (Insert joke here about Hillary Clinton being a Goldwater girl... hahahaha.) But the reason was that I assumed these attitudes to be such a high bar to overcome that any woman would need the validation of the warmongering Daddy Party to win. I'm not sure about that now. I think we have probably progressed beyond that --- and that the electoral structure of the two parties may be enough to overcome it regardless. Nonetheless, the Republicans will use whatever they have to try to win the White House and keep their majority. So foreign policy it will be. Mitt's just being Mitt and going whichever way the wind is blowing.