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January 15, 2014 3:18 PM Still the War Party

By Ed Kilgore

I mean no disrespect to Jamelle Bouie by saying that he kills a mosquito with a bazooka in swatting down the idea that the tables could be turned in 2016 with a GOP nominee attacking a Democratic nominee for supporting the Iraq War. This scenario basically requires a Rand Paul/HRC contest in which the Republican’s carte blanche for beating the Red Queen would extend to Iraq revisionism. Aside from the long odds of a Paul nomination, it won’t happen at all unless the Kentuckian achieves some sort of detente with the vast majority of Republican pols who to this day think the Iraq War was both noble and winnable. And that means no bashing of Clinton for supporting a Republican president and all but a handful (six in the House, including Paul’s father; one in the Senate, Linc Chaffee, who’s now a Democrat) of Republican Members of Congress.

Actually, I’m not so sure the Iraq War is going to be nearly as significant a foreign policy issue in 2016 as the debate over having another splendid Middle East adventure in Iran. And as Matt Welch notes at Reason, Rand Paul is in danger of being isolated from other Republicans (as was Paul the Elder) on Iran, too; he could wind up being the only Senate Republican to vote against the Kirk/Menendez Iran sanctions bill.

In any event, Paul’s extremely narrow road to the 2016 nomination requires him to downplay his foreign policy heresies (except insofar as they are entirely focused on Barack Obama’s handling of this or that foreign policy challenge). And other than him, for all the occasional tactical opposition to Obama interventions you hear from people like Ted Cruz, there’s nobody else in the 2016 field likely to campaign on turning swords into plowshares. The GOP is still the War Party.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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