In an op-ed published by The Washington Post Friday evening, Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry ripped Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) over his isolationist ideology and blamed President Obama for the increased violence in the Middle East. Perry also praised former President Ronald Reagan’s record on foreign policy and slammed Paul for suggesting that the Republican icon was wrong. The Texas conservative appeared to fully embrace the interventionist ideology of former Vice-President Dick Cheney and the neoconservative movement. All in all, the column almost certainly indicates that Perry will throw his hat in the ring for 2016 and take another stab at the White House.
Right off the bat, Perry took swings at Paul, who at the moment looks to be one of the frontrunners for the GOP nomination.
That’s why it’s disheartening to hear fellow Republicans, such as Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), suggest that our nation should ignore what’s happening in Iraq. The main problem with this argument is that it means ignoring the profound threat that the group now calling itself the Islamic State poses to the United States and the world.
After repeating neocon talking points about the need to intervene in the Middle East and confront radical Islamists head on, Perry took offense to Paul taking swipes at the god of all gods, Ronald Reagan.
Yet Paul still advocates inaction, going so far as to claim in an op-ed last month in the Wall Street Journal that President Ronald Reagan’s own doctrines would lead him to same conclusion.
But his analysis is wrong. Paul conveniently omitted Reagan’s long internationalist record of leading the world with moral and strategic clarity.
This is a two-fold strategy on Perry’s part. One, he is hoping to discredit the man he thinks is his toughest competitor in a crowded GOP field. At the same time, Perry wants to remind Republican voters that he worships at the altar of St. Ronnie and that Paul is nonbeliever who is crapping all over the legacy of the Great Communicator. Throughout the column, Perry constantly praised Reagan’s vision and foreign policy decisions.
Of course, Perry also had to take potshots at the President. After painting Reagan as a true mastermind in international relations, Perry heavily criticized Obama and laid every single problem going on in the Middle East at the President’s feet.
We have seen President Obama draw his red lines, but the world knows by now that this is a rhetorical device or negotiating ploy rather than a promise of action. This kind of confused leadership and passivity enabled groups such as the Islamic State to grow and play major roles in terror’s resurgence. It has also enabled al-Qaeda to regroup.
As a consequence, there are no good options in Iraq or Syria. The window to shape events for the better passed years ago. The lousy choices we face today are the price of failed leadership. Nonetheless, the president can and must do more with our military and intelligence communities to help cripple the Islamic State. Meaningful assistance can include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sharing and airstrikes.
Perry bashing Obama is par for the course. In fact, it is expected. However, in this instance, Perry wanted to make sure to draw a direct comparison between Paul and Obama in an effort to portray Paul as a weak and timid liberal, which is how the Republican base sees President Obama. Perry is banking on the hope that there are enough Republican voters out there that want a warmongering cowboy back in the White House.
Let’s face it. Perry is just George W. Bush, The Lesser. He has all of Dubya’s lack of intellectual curiosity, penchant for foul-ups, Texas folksiness and fake swagger. Somehow, though, he comes across as even more comically inept and dangerous. Americans already went through eight years of Bush. They aren’t looking for a sequel.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).