There is a parallel divide on national security, in which many elite conservatives continue to embrace humanitarian intervention and nation-building and the continued expansion of the U.S. military’s global footprint while others have embraced a more “Jacksonian” sensibility, in which we eschew humanitarian intervention and nation-building and perhaps even retrench on military commitments while being ferocious in the defense of (somewhat more narrowly-defined) American interests. Both of these broad views can be characterized as hawkish and nationalistic, and both might even be associated with similarly high levels of military expenditures, though the latter view is more compatible with reduction in military expenditures. Yet the “neocons” and the “Jacksonians” can be far apart in terms of affect and on issues like what to do about Afghanistan…

The reason these fault lines matter, or rather the reason these fault lines matter right now, is that, as Gabriel suggests, they complicate the critique of the president. The Frumian critique of the Obama administration is that he hasn’t done enough on housing, his approach to fiscal stimulus was wrongheaded, and his coverage expansion model is too expensive to be sustainable. The Tea Party critique, in contrast, is that he favors a radical expansion of the size and power of government that threatens our constitutional order. The nationalist critique is that he has emboldened our enemies by apologizing for America, and his defense cuts will limit our ability to project power. A Jacksonian realist, on the other hand, might argue that the president hasn’t been enough of a realist. That there are tensions and contradictions between these critiques is obvious.