THE REPUBLICANS SERIOUSLY
IT'S NOT POSSIBLE
By: Justin Raimondo
I was hoping never to have to write about the Santorum surge, yet I knew, in
my hearts of hearts, it was meant to be. After all, the more Newt Gingrich talked
and talked, and talked the more likely even Republican primary voters were to be
repulsed by the vastness of his self-regard. It was inevitable that the Gingrich bubble
would burst, and the next logical place for the thoroughly neoconized that is,
lobotomized conservative mainstream to go is certainly not Ron Paul.
Santorum inherited those voters by default. For these people, the Iraq war
never happened, or, if it did, it occurred in an alternate universe where the Iraqis
pelted us with rose petals upon our arrival, instead of a hail of bullets, just like
Richard Perle and the gang said they would. They have learned nothing since the Bush era:
frozen in time, they are the partys zombies, cheering the slogans of a long
discredited cause. Santorum and Romney are competing for the Republican undead vote, with
the latter doing his best to prove his pro-war credentials. The military option in Iran,
said Romney during what was billed as the final debate, is not just on the table
its in our hand. Well, not quite yet, Mitt: you havent got your
finger on the trigger just yet. And god willing you never will.
Yet Santorum manages to out-warmonger even this, boasting that he went up
against George W. Bush in pushing crippling sanctions on Iran, and pointing to
his campaign to fund Iranian exile groups money he claims has been cut by the evil
Obamaites, who are more than glad to fund the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Libya.
Santorum scores extra points for implicitly pandering to the Obama-is-a-secret-Muslim
meme: although we probably wont see him signing on to the theory that Obama is the
love child of Malcolm X, that part of Santorums debate performance was a dog whistle
aimed in the direction of outright loons.
Like Michele Bachmann, whose penchant for making up facts may
have had something to do with her campaigns early demise, Santorum just doesnt
know what hes talking about:
When I was born, less than 10 percent of the federal budget was
entitlement spending. It's now 60 percent of the budget.
Some people have suggested that defense spending is the problem. When I was born,
defense spending was 60 percent of the budget. It's now 17 percent. If you think defense
spending is the problem, then you need a remedial math class to go back to.
In 1958, when Santorum was born, defense spending was 38 percent of the total budget: its now 58 percent if
you count the interest on the military spending portion of total federal outlays and the
costs of past wars, including veterans benefits and medical care. The
official figure is 20 percent, so the Senator doesnt even get that
right. I understand what launching a presidential campaign on a shoestring entails, but if
hes going to make this one of his talking points, couldnt he at least do a few
minutes of pre-debate Googling?
It was amateur hour on the debate stage in Arizona on Wednesday night, and
Santorum was far from alone is playing loose with the facts. Both Romney and Santorum have
taken up this Hezbollah-in-Latin-America theme, a campaign talking point that stands right
up there with the most far out of Laurie Mylroies fantasies and the Niger uranium
forgeries in terms of credibility. Yet that hasnt stopped the neoconservatives
from pushing this idea for years, with little or no real evidence to back it up: indeed,
the lack of evidence provides plenty of space for pure speculation, which is what
theyre best at. You can be sure that when some right-wing
anti-terrorist expert pontificates before a congressional committee,
theyre bound to bring up the alleged Hezbollah training camp that
supposedly exists on Margarita Island, a small, balmy island off Venezuelas north
coast. With its low-growing vegetation, small size, and paths well-worn by the
inhabitants, Margarita Island is as unlikely a place for a terrorist training camp as,
say, Fire Island. It would be discovered five minutes after being set up: the sound of
shots would echo through the inlets and coves like thunderclaps. As Michele Salcedo put it in the Florida Sun-Sentinel:
Recently, Gen. James T. Hill, the commander of the U.S. Southern
Command, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that radical Islamic
groups associated with Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Gamaat and others are operating
out of ..... locales, like Margarita Island off Venezuela.
Hill has never visited the island.
The net fishermen, small-business owners, bank presidents and
government officials who call Margarita Island home say Hill is all wrong. They would like
him to take a drive around the island and through the peninsula to see what they already
Strangers would have a hard time hiding here. The rough, low-growing
vegetation offers no cover. Munitions explosions would echo off the mountains and amplify
off the water. The coves and inlets are as familiar to the people who live here as the
creases in their weather-worn faces. A dozen flights wing to and from Caracas each day,
giving passengers on board a birds-eye view of the peninsula.
The Romney-Santorum theme of a looming Latin American jihadist threat is a
narrative that defies refutation for the simple reason that there is zero evidence to
support it. When one boils down these reports, such as one issued by the American
Enterprise Institute, the most one can say is that Hezbollahs fundraising activities
are international in scope and include contributions from some sources in Latin America.
This is a very far cry from setting up operational centers and terrorist training
camps, but that doesnt deter the authors of this particular narrative, who
arent interested in evidence, only in scaremongering. In short, the whole thing is a
complete fabrication, on the same level as the Obama-is-a-secret-Muslim meme. All of which
makes it hard to take the two leading Republican candidates seriously.
The complete lack of any thoughtfulness should be worrying to those few
Republicans left who care about such things. The world is more dangerous, says
Romney. It is not safer. Yes, after a decade of constant warfare, after
invading and occupying two Muslim countries and striking from Somalia to Pakistan, we are
definitely much less safe but whose fault is that? Romney would escalate the very
policies responsible for increasing the danger to all Americans.
On the question of regime change in Syria, Romney and Santorum are in total
agreement, declaring we ought to arm the rebels, along with Turkey and the Saudis. Why
this wouldnt turn into another Libya, neither bothered to say, although I
wouldnt want to be the one who started the Santorum-is-a-secret-Muslim meme, now
The foreign policy portion of this debate underscored the fundamental
unseriousness of the leading Republican candidates. Their fundamental dishonesty
are we really going to abjure any cuts in the military even if it means bankruptcy?
imbues these debates with an air of childishness: one feels as if one has been teleported
back in time, to ones high school election for class president. As the only adult
onstage, Ron Paul shone in comparison.
The problem is that weve become a nation of babies: total narcissists
who believe the world not only revolves around us, but that the laws of economics and of
common sense itself are subject to our whims. In such a world, one can indeed have an
empire and a welfare state and never have to worry when the bills come due because,
after all, babies dont pay bills, do they?
This was Pauls lament Wednesday night, when he said, in a tired voice:
well Ive tried the moral argument, and all the other arguments, and I havent
gotten anywhere, so maybe the economic argument will work. Im paraphrasing Paul, but
in essence he said: Were broke, and we cant afford all these wars.
Im afraid not even the economic argument will work on these free
market Republicans. The reason it wont work is because the Republican party is
committed to permanent warfare as a matter of high principle, one that trumps economics,
and everything else, including the laws of morality. Paul invokes the spirit of Robert A.
Taft, but that strain of Republicanism is long since dissipated into political
insignificance although the Paul campaign may be a harbinger of its revival,
Pauls showing in the primaries hasnt yet demonstrated that.
Polls show a good part of Pauls support which we can translate,
for our purposes, into support for anti-interventionism comes from independents,
young people, and swing voters leaning Democrat. In short, it comes from precisely those
voters who will be deciding the next election not from Republican base voters,
whose foreign policy views are frozen in time and impervious to rational argument.
Speaking of being impervious to rational argument, I see the Santorum camp is
floating the rumor that Romney is offering Paul the vice presidential slot in return for
an alliance. This is much like the Obama-is-a-secret-Muslim rumor in that it
cannot be refuted because theres nothing to refute. As Ive pointed out
before, Paul has attacked Romney often and hard: theres nothing to this
alliance other than the overworked imagination of one Washington
Post reporter and, now, Team Santorum. Were even hearing it may be Rand Paul,
Rons son and the freshly-elected Senator from Kentucky, whos up for the vice
presidency. Since this possibility is contingent on Ron and/or Rand actually, you
know, endorsing Romney, such a scenario seems highly unlikely, to put it mildly.
Whats funny is that the Santorum camp and the political
reporters pushing this non-story so strenuously are utterly clueless about what
drives the Paul campaign. Its been so long since theyve seen an honest
politician at the head of a principled movement that they cant even understand the
concept. Ideologically, the Paulians are light years removed from all the other
candidates, and no amount of cajoling or bribes will bring them into the
fold. No, not even the prospect of Rand Paul a heartbeat away from the presidency, which
isnt going to happen in any event.
Justin Raimondo is Editorial
Director of AntiWar.Com.
He is a regular columnist for Ether Zone.
"Published originally at EtherZone.com :
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the February 27, 2012 issue of Ether Zone.
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