Douthat is torn between Marco Rubio and Rand Paul:
I admire Paul’s outreach to minority voters, and I was very skeptical of the immigration bill Rubio shepherded through the Senate last year. But I have agreed with practically every domestic policy stance the Florida senator has taken since, and his reform agenda seems more sensible on substance and more plausible as politics than Paul’s more stringent libertarianism.
But then on foreign policy my sympathies reverse. Paul’s ties to his father’s more paranoid worldview are problematic, but the realism and restraint he’s championing seem wiser than the G.O.P.’s frequent interventionist tilt.
Friedersdorf deems it “too risky to put another Iraq hawk in the White House, especially when they’ve given no indication of having learned anything from that historic debacle”:
Rubio would fill his White House with people who still regard the Iraq War as a good idea. Paul will tap people who believe it to have been an ill-conceived mistake. Rubio will ally with people who sing, “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran.” Paul represents the opposing foreign policy faction in the GOP. … Iraq is clarifying. Douthat may believe that a Rubio domestic agenda would serve America better than a Paul domestic agenda. But is the difference so great as to outweigh the risk of a Rubio war that kills 4,489 Americans, wounds tens of thousands, exposes hundreds to chemical agents, and triggers a PTSD epidemic? Is Rubio’s tax plan so good that its worth risking another $6 trillion war tab?
There isn’t room for two Texan socially conservative foreign policy hard-liners, just as there isn’t room for two Floridian pro-immigration “reform conservatives,” and so on. If both would-be candidates from any of these states run they are both bound to be much less successful. Both in each state should be able to see that they would be cannibalizing one another in the primaries, which is why many of them aren’t going to declare. That will leave us with a less interesting, but also less unwieldy field of candidates than many are expecting.
Incidentally, this is one reason why I now suspect that Rubio will end up deciding not to run for president for 2016.
(Photo: Alex Wong/Getty.)