2008 Isn’t Going To Be Just About National Security + Mitt Romney = Lincoln Chafee In 1994

Unfortunately, I have to respectfully disagree with my pal Hugh Hewitt who’s peddling a line that I’ve heard quite a lot of late, that the 2008 nominations are going to be almost solely about national security. The only twist here is that Hugh seems to be using this line to sell Mitt Romney, which is a bit odd, since he’s an inexperienced governor with no significant foreign policy experience. Here’s Hugh:

“The simple fact is that the first post-9/11 contested primary season on the GOP side will be dominated by national security, not social issues, and understanding of the war against jihadism, whether from Sunni or Shia extremists, will be the key to capturing the Republican nomination.

Generals have often been accused of fighting the last war. Journalists these days seem intent on fighting the last campaign. The serious party is looking for serious debate on the war and the country’s defenses. Romney’s letter from 1994 will have as much impact as John McCain’s role in the Keating Five controversy or Rudy’s policies as an Associate Attorney General in the early ’80s (did he sign off on the Bob Jones’ brief?)

The same washing of the slate post 9/11 will even help Hillary get free of much of the Clinton-era dross, except the national security record of her husband. (Is Sandy Berger advising her?)

A handful of extreme pro-life activists allied with an even smaller number of radical bloggers aren’t going to define the terms of the campaign of 2008 for the GOP. Not only are they immunizing Romney on the old issues, they are underscoring just how tone-deaf the MSM has become about the GOP grassroots.”

Here’s the thing: today, we have a President who has been steadfast on national security issues and not so hot on the domestic side. His combined approval rating at RealClearPolitics is 36.5% and not once this year has his approval rating gone north of 50% in any poll. So, long story short, not only are the Democrats and Independents unhappy with Bush, a significant chunk of the Republican base doesn’t approve of the job he’s doing either. So, if the litmus test is nothing more than a fresh face who’s tough like Bush on national security, then that seems like a recipe for failure in 2008.

Moreover, may I note that while I hear a few people saying that nothing matters but national security — usually by Rudy Giuliani fans which is a bit odd given that there are at least two candidates (Hunter and McCain) with better national security credentials than he has — there also seems to be a significant portion of the base who are quite interested in fiscal conservatism, abortion, and illegal-immigration among other issues.

Let me also add that once you set aside Chuck Hagel along with perhaps Mike Huckabee and Sam Brownback if you want to stretch things a bit, the foreign policy positions of the candidates don’t seem to be all that different except at the margins. In other words, if you put Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Duncan Hunter, Mitt Romney, Tom Tancredo and Newt Gingrich all in a room, they’d probably agree about 90% of the time on national security issues. Since that’s the case, domestic issues would seem to take on greater, not lesser importance, because the candidates are so alike on national security.

PS: As far as the letter goes, it’s not all that important in and of itself, but it is another piece of evidence that confirms something that is starting to become apparent about Mitt Romney: he’s a chameleon and a flip flopper who tells people what they want to hear. When he’s going up against Ted Kennedy, he talks like Lincoln Chafee. But, now that he has decided he wants to run for president, he talks like Rush Limbaugh. So, which is it? Wimpy, moderate Mitt or conservative Mitt — or is it that he’ll tell us whatever he needs to tell us to get elected and then we’ll only get to see his true colors if and when he gets into office?

I gotta tell you, some of the old info that has been recently dug up on Mitt is really disturbing from a conservative stand point. For example, this quote from Romney’s debate with Ted Kennedy back in 1994 really bothers me a lot,

“I was an independent during the time of Reagan-Bush. I’m not trying to return to Reagan-Bush.”

This is pretty bad, too,

“Romney aides, hoping to keep their candidate out of the controversy generated by the (Contract for America) and as far from Washington politics as possible, said he has not read it and has no plans to support it, the Globe says.”

So, in 1994, Mitt Romney was anti-Reagan and anti-Contract with America, but now we can take him at his word when he says he’s the “conservative candidate” in the race? Uh-huh…

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