by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
For two blessed hours on Wednesday night, Americans were treated to a rare glimpse of a Republican Party that is recognizable to GOP voters who remember a time before Trump.
It was a combative debate, but there was more consensus on that stage than contention. Among the points of broad agreement: America is a force for good on the world stage, the American-led geopolitical order is worth preserving, and America’s geostrategic position vis-à-vis its foreign adversaries can have dire consequences for the quality of life U.S. citizens presently enjoy. Only Vivek Ramaswamy dissented against this concurrence, but he served as the heel in today’s production — a paper tiger whose objections only emphasize the virtues endorsed by his opponents.
Given the rapid deterioration in the global security environment since the September 28 debate, NBC News devoted appropriate attention to foreign policy. On Israel’s war in Gaza, there was broad agreement around the notion that the Biden administration’s foremost task is to get out of Jerusalem’s way. Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, Chris Christie, and Tim Scott endorsed Israel’s war of regime change in the Strip. Indeed, some went further by highlighting the extent to which the 10/7 attack was an extension of Iran’s provocations in the region. Given the ongoing attacks on U.S. positions from Iran’s proxies in the Middle East, Israel’s war is, to some extent, America’s war, too. Ramaswamy, of course, objected, but only indirectly — insisting that only those who want to cut Israel off from U.S. material aid really have the Jewish state’s best interests in mind. But Ramaswamy’s attempt to retail his parochial foreign-policy preferences as a rare species of hawkishness only underscored the unpopularity of his vision within the GOP.