By voicing what has become the mainstream Republican positions on foreign policy — but not focusing too much on them — Romney has allowed average Americans to check off the “strong foreign policy” box — without ever thinking he might really send more Americans off to war (after all, we assume, he saw how things went for Bush and wouldn’t make the same mistakes).
Being a bit vague isn’t always a bad thing. Some people tend to hear what they want to hear. But that’s harder to do today. Does Rice’s high-profile speech signal that Romney’s re-election would mean a return to more interventionism? Do voters — now forced to confront the question — want to return to the foreign policy of George W. Bush? (And do Republicans want that to be a question voters ask on Election Day?)
Bush ended his tenure as an unpopular president — largely due to Iraq. From a political perspective, why would Romney want to put someone on stage who reinforces what is perhaps the strongest negative about the last Republican presidency? (Why not also trot out Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney and have an “old-timers” game?)