That’s a fine logical leap he’s made here, but not everyone who supports defense cuts — however grudgingly — does so because they’re an isolationist. I accept them as inevitable simply as a political cost of doing business to balance the budget. If the day comes when Congress gets serious about reducing spending, Democrats will need something to show their base in exchange for agreeing to cuts to social programs. And short of a punitive tax hike, the one thing the left wants above all else is cuts to defense. The trick for McCain and other hawks will be to make sure that dovish Republicans like Paul don’t give away the farm on DOD without demanding reciprocal cuts from Democrats in return. As noted by Think Progress, not only are there at least six Republican senators willing to consider defense cuts, but Johnny Isakson has said that deficit reduction “begins with the Department of Defense.” Er, no, Johnny, it doesn’t. Addressing wasteful defense spending, as Gates has long suggested, is one thing, but balancing the budget will require something deeper than a $100 billion hit to the military. The GOP should be prepared to deal on that — just as soon as we get some commitments from liberals about, say, entitlement reform.

Two videos here, one of McCain via CNS and the other from Think Progress of Allen West insisting that, yes indeed, defense cuts are most assuredly on the table. I can’t wait to see how this rhetorical battle plays out among grassroots conservatives. Two war heroes, one a RINO defending traditional conservative hawkish spending priorities and the other a tea-party icon floating “everything is on the table” budget-saving frugality. Who wins?