On Wednesday, Vox’s Max Fisher tweeted the following:
On the one hand, it’s easy to say no, he doesn’t. Kristol’s reputation as a
has not fared well since the turn of the century. His principal claim to fame this year has been
he had in Sen. Tom Cotton’s open letter to Iran’s mullahs — which,
, did not have the desired effect. Maybe
. By reality-based community standards, however, Kristol seems to fall into the same “
” category as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Before reaching that conclusion, however, consider the following stories and excerpts culled from the past week of 2016 GOP presidential primary news:
1. Josh Rogin, “Rick Perry’s Plan to Kill Obama’s Iran Deal,” Bloomberg News:
Texas Governor Rick Perry hasn’t yet said whether he’s running for president, yet he will announce Monday that if he wins the White House he intends to trash President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran as one of his first official acts….
Perry’s comments put him squarely in line with the letter to Iran’s leaders penned by freshman Senator Tom Cotton last month and signed by 47 Republican Senators, which warned that any deal Iran signs with the Obama administration won’t last past Obama’s presidency.
Now Perry is a more marginal presidential candidate this time around, so maybe this doesn’t mean too much. Except he’s hardly the only one…
2. David Drucker, “Rand Paul Odd Man Out on Iran,” Washington Examiner.
“I’m going to keep an open mind and look at the agreement. I do believe that negotiation is better than war,” Paul said Wednesday, during an interview on the Today Show on NBC. “I think I’ve been one of the reasonable people in our party, who has not been beating the drums for war.”
This is a contrast with Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, businesswoman Carly Fiorina, former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who have all blasted the framework of the deal and additional details revealed by Obama since the outline was concluded on April 2.
All promise to use their executive authority if elected in Nov. 2016 to junk the deal and reset policy toward Iran. This would put them at odds with European allies, China and Russia.
Speaking of Rubio…
3. Rosie Gray, “Rubio Wooed Pro-Israel Crowd at Paul Singer’s House,” BuzzFeed.
Sen. Marco Rubio was the featured guest at an event at Republican donor Paul Singer’s place in New York last Monday attended by influential Republican foreign policy hawks.
According to sources who attended the dinner, Rubio was well-received among attendees— one said that “people who walked out of the room were totally in love” — a sign that he could be coming into favor among people influential with the New York Jewish Republican donor class, among whom Singer is the most sought-after. Singer is holding a series of dinners with potential candidates such as the one that featured Rubio, the New York Times reported over the weekend.
Well, Jeb Bush’s name didn’t come up. I wonder how he’s doing? Oh…
4. Byron Tau, “GOP Foreign Policy Factions Tussle for Sway in Jeb Bush’s Campaign Team,” Wall Street Journal.
More hawkish Republicans — represented by the prominent, interventionist neoconservatives who populated the ranks of the George W. Bush administration — have repeatedly raised concerns about the more pragmatic foreign policy team being assembled around Mr. Bush.
In the most recent dustup, Mr. Bush’s political operation put the brakes on a pick for the top foreign policy job in the yet-to-be-announced campaign after worries that the choice [CNAS’ Eldridge Colby] would cause too much tension with the neoconservative wing of the party, which includes many prominent donors.
So what does this all mean? It means that, even though Republican voters are genuinely split about the Iran negotiations, the 2016 GOP field and the folks who are funding them are not split at all. There continues to be hawkish outbidding on Iran in particular and foreign policy in general in order to appease key financial backers — all of whom share Kristol’s basic worldview. The lone exception, Rand Paul, has been on the defensive since his announcement earlier this week.
To be clear, I’m really not saying that any of this is Kristol’s doing. I’m saying that, on the GOP side of the ledger, it doesn’t matter whether Kristol matters. In 2016, it’s still Kristol’s world — or, rather, his worldview.