I like to check out Foreign Policy Magazine online now and again for different stories and viewpoints. You can imagine my surprise today when I saw an article titled “How to Beat Obama”, written by…wait for it…Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie. Yes, Karl Rove, despite being wrong nearly as often as William Kristol, still thinks that his advice would be helpful to the 2012 Republican Presidential nominee. Check out some of the pearls of wisdom Karl and Ed are offering:
“In an American election focused on a lousy economy and high unemployment, conventional wisdom holds that foreign policy is one of Barack Obama’s few strong suits. But the president is strikingly vulnerable in this area. The Republican who leads the GOP ticket can attack him on what Obama mistakenly thinks is his major strength by translating the center-right critique of his foreign policy into campaign themes and action. Here’s how to beat him.
First, the Republican nominee should adopt a confident, nationalist tone emphasizing American exceptionalism, expressing pride in the United States as a force for good in the world, and advocating for an America that is once again respected (and, in some quarters, feared) as the preeminent global power. Obama acts as if he sees the United States as a flawed giant, a mistake that voters already perceive. After all, this is the president who said, “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” Voters also sense he is content to manage America’s decline to a status where the United States is just one country among many.”
Ah, yes, the “American Exceptionalism” cliche – Americans are somehow inherently better than the rest of the world, and we damn well don’t need to pay attention to any of those lesser people in all of those other crappy countries. America is a flawless giant, dammit, and just look at how perceptive American voters are, too!
“The Republican nominee should use the president’s own words and actions to portray him as naive and weak on foreign affairs. Obama’s failed promises, missed opportunities, and erratic shifts suggest he is out of touch and in over his head.”
Karl, do you remember anything of the presidency of George W. Bush, or have you simply blocked it all out?
“The Republican candidate must address at least four vital areas. The most important is the struggle that will define this century’s arc: radical Islamic terrorism. He should make the case that victory must be America’s national goal, not merely seeking to “delegitimize the use of terrorism and to isolate those who carry it out,” as Obama’s May 2010 National Security Strategy put it. As in the Cold War, victory will require sustained U.S. involvement and a willingness to deploy all tools of influence — from diplomacy to economic ties, from intelligence efforts to military action.”
I thought that this 2012 election was all about JOBS, JOBS, JOBS – oh, wait, that was the 2010 mid-terms, or…well some election was/is supposed to be about JOBS…I think.
“Second, the Republican candidate must condemn the president’s precipitous drawdown in Afghanistan and his deep, dangerous defense-budget cuts. Both are viewed skeptically by the military: The former emboldens America’s adversaries and discourages its allies; the latter is of deep concern to veterans and other Americans who doubt Obama’s commitment to the military.”
Jeebus knows that we don’t want to “precipitously” leave Afghanistan after, what, only eleven years or so? And didn’t I hear that President Obama has actually increased the defense budget?
“During the 2008 campaign, he also argued that Iran was a “tiny” country that didn’t “pose a serious threat.” How foolish that now seems.”
“In part because of how he has mishandled the Iranian threat, Obama has lost much political and financial support in the American Jewish community. His approach to Israel must be presented as similarly weak and untrustworthy. The Republican candidate must make clear the existential threat to Israel from a nuclear-armed Iran…”
We certainly wouldn’t want Israel to defend itself all alone, with only a few hundred nuclear weapons, against a possible/future/maybe-nuclear-armed Iran, now would we?
Obama recognizes that he’s seen as “cold and aloof,” and the Republican nominee should hammer this point home. The president has few real friends abroad (excepting, of course, Islamist Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as he told Time magazine’s Fareed Zakaria). The Republican nominee should criticize Obama for not understanding that the U.S. president’s personal engagement is essential for effective global leadership. Obama’s lack of regular close contact with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, which has destroyed relationships with America’s erstwhile allies, is simply the most jarring, inexplicable example of this president’s hands-off approach.
If the Republican candidate turns out to be Mitt Romney, our allies (and enemies, too!) will be SO overwhelmed by the “warm and fuzzies.” So, President Obama hasn’t been calling al-Maliki and Karzai as much as Rove and Gillespie think he should? What are they, Obama’s mother?
“Because the fall campaign must be devoted to promoting the Republican message on jobs and the economy, the GOP nominee must share his big foreign-policy vision no later than early summer.”
“The fourth line of attack must be about America’s fragile economy and how to restore it. Many voters think Obama’s stewardship of the economy has been inconsistent and even counterproductive.”
Of course, talking about jobs and the economy can wait until the fall – it gives the Republican nominee that much more time to think of something other than “cut taxes and regulations for corporations” and “make the Bush tax cuts permanent.”
“Undoubtedly, Obama will attempt to preempt criticism of his foreign policy by repeating endlessly that Osama bin Laden was killed on his watch. By campaign’s end, some voters will wonder whether the president personally delivered the kill shot.”
Yes, undoubtedly, ’cause that’s what Rove and Gillespie would do – it would definitely convince “some voters”, i.e., FuxNews-watchers.
“Absent a major international crisis, this election will be largely about jobs, spending, health care, and energy. Voters do, however, want a president who leads on the world stage and a commander in chief who projects strength, not weakness.”
What the…”absent a major international crisis”? Such as, Karl?
“A November 2011 survey conducted by Resurgent Republic showed that 50 percent of voters (as well as 54 percent of self-identified independents) think America’s standing in the world is worse under Obama, while only 21 percent believe it is better. This represents a sharp drop from April 2010, when 50 percent of voters (and 49 percent of independents) believed Obama had improved America’s standing.
That’s because Obama has failed to become a strong international leader, and the Republican nominee must reinforce this message — one most Americans already believe. Foreign policy is a weakness for this president, not a strength.”
Hey, guess who’s a Board Member at Resurgent Republic? Why, good old Ed Gillespie!
Hmmm, I don’t think that your advice is so hot, Karl (and Ed.) Maybe they should read another article at Foreign Policy magazine that refutes their arguments.
Regardless of whether or not Rove and Gillespie’s advice is useful, I don’t think that either of the current ‘leaders’ for the Republican nomination would be capable of following it.
This is our daily open thread – feel free to opine on this or any other topic.