Messrs. Blitzer and Gingrich, longtime Washington insiders, live in a cultural cosmos in which things like this are chattered about with no more sense of import than if they were talking about the Redskins. In fact it’s exactly what they talk about after they talk about the Redskins game. But should we be discussing those things so blithely and explicitly in such a public way? You have to wonder what the world thinks when it hears such talk—and the world is watching.
It would have been nice to hear one of the candidates say, “You know, Wolf, I’m not sure it’s a good idea to talk the way we’re talking at a time like this, with the world so hot and our problems so big. Discretion isn’t cowardice, so let me give you the general and overarching philosophy with which I’d approach these challenges, and you can infer from it what you like. I prefer peaceable solutions when they are possible. I think war is always a tragedy, sometimes necessary, sometimes even inevitable, but always tragic, and so I don’t speak lightly or blithely of taking up arms . . .”
By the end, some of what was said sounded so dramatic that Ron Paul seemed like the normal one. He very much doesn’t want new wars or new military actions. This is not an unreasonable desire! Jon Huntsman was normal too. They both seemed to think our biggest foreign-policy challenge is the American economy, which pays for our arms and diplomacy but has grown weak. It has to be made stronger, because without it we can afford nothing.
The tone of the debate seemed to me another example of the perils of Republo-world, where politicians, consultants and policy professionals egg each other on in hopes of reaching the farthest points of the base.