Nobody usually cares when a Senator gives a speech on foreign policy to the Brookings Institute, but the US media was all over Marco Rubio’s Wednesday effort. It mattered because Rubio is top of Romney’s list to be the Vice Presidential nominee – and the press was struck by its statesmanlike tone and attempt to bridge the partisan divide. But while the sound of the talk was moderate, its content was not. This was the most hawkish speech since John Wayne told that Mexican lady in The Alamo what he was fighting for: “There’s right and there’s wrong. You gotta do one or the other. You do the one and you’re living. You do the other and you maybe walking around, but you’re dead as a beaver hat…”
While Rubio did list some Democrats that he likes (Roosevelt, Truman, Scoop Jackson), he really seemed to want to send a message to the Republicans that he dislikes. This is the relevant section:
“Until very recently, the general perception was that American Conservatism believed in a robust and muscular foreign policy … But when I arrived in the Senate last year I found that some of the traditional sides in the foreign policy debate had shifted. On the one hand, I found liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans working together to advocate our withdrawal from Afghanistan, and staying out of Libya. On the other hand I found myself partnering with Democrats … on a more forceful foreign policy … I recently joked that today, in the US Senate, on foreign policy, if you go far enough to the right, you wind up on the left.”
Rubio’s target is obvious: Ron Paul, Rand Paul, and those elements of the Tea Party Right that dissented on Libya. Given that it barely scraped 20 percent in most primaries, it’s amazing how much the Paulite revolt seems to have upset the Republican establishment. In fact, Rubio’s entire speech (and it’s a long one) reads like a step-by-step rebuttal of the Paulite critique of neoconservative foreign policy – the belief that America has a moral duty and a strategic interest to promote global democracy.Read the rest here.