Which Republican could beat Hillary Clinton? The one with a sane foreign policy | Mulshine
As I’ve noted, I never bet more than a six-pack of beer on the outcome of a political contest. So how would I bet when it comes to the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination?
Glad you asked. I would bet Hillary Clinton will not be the nominee. I would say the odds indicate that Vice President Joe Biden will enter the race and displace Clinton in relatively short order.
There are many reasons Biden would be a better candidate for the Democrats than Clinton, but the main one is foreign policy.
Biden largely avoided leaving his fingerprints on the foreign-policy disasters of the Obama era. But as secretary of state, Clinton was a key proponent of the “Arab Spring” approach that led to the current chaos in the Mideast. She was among the first to call for the ouster of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, an effort that helped usher in the era of ISIS.
Until Biden jumps in, however, Clinton remains the likely Democratic nominee. So one might think the Republicans would be in a good position to attack her on foreign policy.
Some are. And some aren’t. We saw quite an interesting split on that question in last week’s debate among the GOP contenders.
Most of the candidates showed themselves to be even more inclined than Clinton to continue the policies of meddling in the Mideast that have failed so spectacularly since the 9/11 attacks.
Carly Fiorina was the worst. When asked what she would do about Syria, Fiorina said she would start arming the Kurds and the Jordanians. She would also cut off talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who is building up forces there. Oh yeah, Fiorina would also risk starting World War III in Eastern Europe more or less for the fun of it.
Other mainstream candidates offered similar sentiments. But there were dissenters. A pleasant surprise was Donald Trump.
After moderator Jake Tapper asked a loaded question about how “Russia is sending troops and tanks into Syria right now to prop up a U.S. enemy, Bashar al-Assad,” Trump refused to rise to the bait.
“Why are we fighting ISIS in Syria?” Trump asked. “Let them fight each other and pick up the remnants.”
As for Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Trump said, “I would talk to him. I would get along with him.”
He promised “we will have a much more stable world.”
That’s not a bad stance for a race against Clinton. But imagine one of the mainstream candidate running against Clinton. Her biggest weakness would turn into a strength if she were pitted against someone like Jeb Bush.
Clinton may have voted for the Iraq War as a senator in 2003. But that was when no one knew whether to believe Jeb’s brother’s claims of “weapons of mass destruction.” But a few months ago Bush told an interviewer he would have gone to war even knowing what we know now. He later said he didn’t mean to say that, but only after a series of gaffes.
It’s the outsiders who are making sense. Surgeon Ben Carson, also bucked the party line by saying he warned George W. Bush against attacking Iraq in 2003.
“There are smart ways to do things and there are muscular ways to do things,” he said, an insight that sounds like common sense to most Americans but represents a heresy to the “neo” conservatives who control the GOP.
But it was Rand Paul who came up with the best line of attack against a potential candidate Clinton. That came after talk-show host Hugh Hewitt asked a leading question about the failure of the Obama administration to attack Assad after he crossed that “red line” the neocons love to talk about.
The Kentucky senator came right back at him – and at Clinton.
“Had we bombed Assad at the time, like President Obama wanted, and like Hillary Clinton wanted and many Republicans wanted, I think ISIS would be in Damascus today,” he said.
He went on to add, “Every time we have toppled a secular dictator, we have gotten chaos, the rise of radical Islam, and we’re more at risk.”
We are indeed. But despite the debacles in Iraq, Egypt and Libya, the inside-the-Beltway Republicans still want to topple Assad.
It’s hard to see how a candidate who embraces that fantasy will be able to attack a candidate Clinton in 2016. It’s even harder to see how he could get past Biden.
But first he has to get past Trump.
And I’m not placing any bets on that one yet.
UPDATE ON BIDEN’S ENTRY: It is my fervent hope that the Democrats are dumb enough to nominate Hillary Clinton, who is perhaps the weakest candidate they could field for reasons that go far beyond her botched foreign policy.
But what you prefer and what you bet are two different things. And after reading the latest RealClearPolitics poll averages, I would double down on the bet that Biden
As you will see when you visit that page, Clinton is in a statistical dead heat with candidates like Bush, Trump and Rubio.
Now check the Biden match-ups. He’s beating Trump by 8 points and Bush by 6.3 points.
The Democrats are not going to ignore those numbers – or at least that’s what my six-pack says.
ADD – THE HACKS HACK AWAY AT TRUMP: You know the Donald’s doing well when the neocons on the Washington Post editorial page declare war on him. The latest is the talent-free Michael Gerson, who somehow parlayed a post as a speechwriter for George W. Bush into a position penning neocon nonsense for the Washington Post.
Gerson is an inside-the-Beltway “conservative” – or in other words a screaming liberal. It seems Gerson’s got his panties in a bunch at the very idea that Trump appeals to Republican voters more than such ciphers as Jeb Bush.
In his latest screed, Gerson laments the failure of the GOP to attract the usual suspects, women, minorities, etc.:
“Many (myself included) thought this process of crawling out of an electoral hole — after losing the popular vote in five out of the past six presidential elections — was difficult but doable. I sat around tables at conferences with Republican policy experts who believed the same. Bush and Rubio, in particular, began the typical effort of hiring interesting thinkers and producing interesting speeches.”
In three of those six elections the candidate was a Bush.In the other three, the candidate was also a moderate with the same politics as the Bushes.
No worries. Let’s elect another Bush! Or perhaps a Bush clone like Rubio.
Only inside the Beltway, could Bush and Rubio be accused of offering deep thoughts in their speeches. I can’t recall a new idea offered by either in this campaign. Both offer the standard nonsense.
It’s impossible to imagine either doing what Trump did last week – stating that he would have little trouble coming to an agreement with Putin on issues like Syria. Never mind that it’s in the U.S. interest to ally with Russia against ISIS; neocon orthodoxy says that’s not permitted.
I’m not the biggest Trump fan, but as long as he can drive the pseudo-conservatives of the Post crazy, I’m an admirer.