Jonathan Rauch: Love Classic Republican Foreign Policy? Vote For Obama





Jonathan Rauch is an opinion columnist for National Journal.

Pundits and, for that matter, the Obama campaign were right to ding Mitt Romney’s foreign policy address Tuesday for banging the table instead of putting anything substantive on it. But what could Romney do? Obama has given him almost nothing to work with. Foreign affairs won’t decide the 2012 election, but, if it did, President Obama would win walking away.

Replying to Romney’s speech, Robert Gibbs, an Obama adviser, said this: "It’s widely accepted that President Obama has an exceptionally strong record on national security issues, and I think, quite frankly, Mitt Romney is having a hard time making an argument against President Obama on these issues." It pains me, as a supposedly crankily skeptical journalist, to agree with a partisan spin doctor, but here goes: Gibbs is right.

I never drank the Obama Kool-Aid in 2008. The then-candidate’s promise of "a new kind of politics," I wrote in National Journal at the time, "borders on chicanery." Replace partisanship with pragmatism? Set aside ideology to take the best solutions from both parties and ease the country out of its mess? Fat chance, I said. Well, for the record, I hereby eat half a crow. Whatever you may think of Obama’s domestic and economic records (which we can debate some other time), on foreign policy he has delivered the post-partisan, pragmatic, and generally successful policy he promised.

Two major surprises have marked his presidency, one negative, one positive...



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