Opinion: The GOP's Dumb Pivot to Foreign Affairs

Thursday, April 26, 2012 - 11:41 AM

Vice President Joe Biden, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen during the United States Forces-Iraq change of command ceremony in Iraq (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty)

It's a bad sign for Republicans if their candidate is trying to focus the debate back on international security.

Traditionally, Republicans talked wars and Democrats talked jobs. Over the past four years, though, President Obama surprised us. He surprised us by not getting as much done on the economy as liberals would have liked and conservatives would have feared. And he surprised us by boasting a very popular international policy program executed by a team that won respect across party lines.

He has critics on both sides. The continuation of senseless drone attacks, investment in mock democracies and our presence in Afghanistan upsets progressives. The right-wing is appalled that he discusses withdrawal dates and hasn't made aggressive moves in Iran. But from gradual troop reductions, successes in targeting Al Qaeda leadership, and a greater investment in diplomacy, most Americans like what he's doing, support his team - as evinced by the record popularity of Secretary of State Clinton -- and are good with the program.

Most Democrats feared the GOP would see this roadblock as an opportunity to focus the election on issues closer to home: namely, job creation.

But maybe the GOP fears that governing on behalf of the 1% will make that a hard sell; maybe they realize their support of the Ryan budget has tainted that debate; or maybe their nominee, a vulture capitalist Richie Rich, is the wrong messenger.

All of which leads to Romney's renewed focus on international affairs: from saber-rattling on Iran to questioning the Obama approach to China to laughing at a multi-lateral diplomacy-heavy approach around the world. The Obama Team isn't missing this opportunity with Vice President Biden becoming a chief surrogate on what Romney's policies, as an extension of Bush's, would look like. The irony that Obama-Biden continued more than a handful of Bush-Cheney priorities seems to be lost on both sides.

The Obama campaign would love to see Biden and Romney duke it out. They are confident in their track record. Furthermore, it pits the VP against one of the few rivals more prone to misspeak than he is.

From a governing perspective, the President must love it even more. He is above the fray, continuing to execute a popular foreign policy. And the more the GOP run in circles on Iran, the more time the President has to focus on job creation in America, the area where the election will truly be won or lost.


More in:

Comments [2]

Justin Krebs from NYC

Thanks, Geoff - just making sure people are reading...

Seriously, though, should be fixed shortly.

Apr. 26 2012 02:23 PM

Bad typo in the first sentence. But yes, ostensibly, I agree.

Apr. 26 2012 02:13 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.


About It's A Free Blog

Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of a blog, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Supported by

WNYC is supported by the Charles H. Revson Foundation: Because a great city needs an informed and engaged public.  Learn more at



Supported by