There are so many things to disagree with Senator and now lame-duck Richard Lugar of Indiana. He was after all a conservative on a wide range of domestic issues.
But where he shined was where the United States really needed him: In foreign policy.
He was one of the rare voices of reason (on either side of the aisle) that saw there was an organic link between the rest of the world and Main Street, USA. He also understood that it was cheaper to spend some money on development programs to help build middle classes — and thereby new customers for US products — in developing countries than to let issues churn away until the only response the U.S. has left is the military.
Lugar was beat by a Tea Party backed candidate who attacked Lugar for trying to make the political system work through compromise and alliances. And this cannot mean anything good for anyone who seriously wants to see Washington get things done.
Jacob Heilbrunn at Foreign Policy has a good piece on the pros and cons of Lugar’s term in office. Bottom line: Maybe Lugar did stay too long. And I have to agree that the Tea Party insurgency did change Lugar’s approach to politics. But he was still a voice of reason and a person who understood that “My way or the highway” is not a way to get things done. He also understands that old local-global thing.
In one telling line, Heilbrunn describes exactly what has happened within the Republican Party:
In a party that will become increasingly torn between its neoconservative wing on the one hand and its Tea Party wing on the other, Lugar had become a party of one. The foreign-policy establishment is largely frozen out from the Republican Party.
Governor Romney’s Latin America position white paper says nothing about Brazil but focuses on Hamas and Iran infiltration. Not mentioning Brazil in a discussion about Latin America is (as Gabriel Elizondo said) talking about the GOP primary races without mentioning Romney.
Simplistic statements such as “I will tell Saudi Arabia to get gas prices down” or “Russia is our #1 enemy” fail to grasp even the basics of foreign policy or even how international events affect local events.
And do we really want to talk about the Ryan Budget that will further reduce the foreign affairs budget while adding more to the Pentagon. Hell, even the top generals and admirals want the State Department to get more money so that the diplomats can work to prevent conflicts before we have to put American men and women in harm’s way.
Atlanta Journal and Constitution: Romney on spending: Guns trump butter
Romney also promises budget increases for the Pentagon, above those sought by some GOP defense hawks, meaning that the rest of the government would have to shrink even more. Nonmilitary programs would incur still larger cuts than those called for in the tightfisted GOP budget that the House passed last month.