Has anyone noticed how stupid everything is getting? Now of course it could be that I’m just getting crankier as I get older, but I could swear the intelligence level of the political class is dropping precipitously. The evidence seems overwhelming:
Exhibit #1 – Marco Rubio’s December 31 interview with the New York Times, wherein the following exchange occurred:
"NYT: Do you think that Rand Paul is on to something with this whole noninterventionist thing?
Rubio: No. If you have a global economy, you cannot retreat from the world. In South Florida, we have a business that imports fresh-cut flowers from Colombia. Imagine if tomorrow there were a coup in Colombia and they installed some sort of Chávez-style government that expropriated the land where those flowers were grown. They’d be out of business overnight.
NYT: You could switch to plastic flowers.
Rubio: I suppose, but they’re not nearly as impressive."
Aside from the plastic flowers snark and "this whole noninterventionist thing," the stupidity here is monumental. Does Rubio really believe those nationalized flowers won’t continue to be sold to Florida retailers? Will the Chavistas eat them, instead? The Saudis nationalized their oil fields long ago, and yet – miraculously! – they still sell us their oil. It doesn’t take a genius to figure this out – and yet not only Rubio but also this Times reporter are clueless on this point.
What’s scary is that Rubio, an economic ignoramus, aspires to be President – yes, of these United States! God help us all.
Exhibit #2 – Western schadenfreude over the fall of the ruble and the resulting economic chaos engulfing Russia. Because – as even Marco Rubio seems to realize – we’re living in a global economy, and the "blowback" from Russia’s predicament didn’t take long to impact Western markets. The Dow dropped 330 points the other day, and, as I write, the stock market continues to fall. Russia’s plight is just a localized version of a problem embedded in the world economy. As one economic analyst put it in the New York Times this [Tuesday] morning: "There’s certainly a deflationary mindset in the market." And Paul Krugman told us inflation was only a figment of Ron Paul’s imagination!
Russia today is America’s tomorrow.
Exhibit #3 – Jeb Bush’s foreign policy team. Jeb is a foreign policy novice, and he seems to be taking the path of least resistance in assembling his team of advisors. This Politico piece informs us that "some of Bush’s most important allies within the GOP foreign policy establishment are closely associated with his brother, whose name is almost synonymous with a war in Iraq that most Americans call a mistake." Author Michael Crowley goes on to note a recent poll in which 66 percent say the Iraq war was "not worth it."
Which raises the question: is it stupidity, or is Jeb intent on throwing the election?
Exhibit #4 – A recent National Review piece on what foreign policy stance "reform conservatives" (i.e. neocons in new clothing) should pursue. So what is this new "reform" foreign policy? Same as the old (neocon) one:
"In recent years, we have seen the resurgence of a [Sen. Robert A.] Taft-style sentiment — call it anti-interventionist, neo-isolationist, or what you will — among some conservatives and libertarians. To be sure, the neo-isolationist faction is in the minority. But it is vocal and better organized than it has been for many years. It also fields a champion, in Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky,), who has a chance at winning the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. … [I]t is terribly wrong, and we must refute it energetically. Frustration with interventions of the past decade must not become an excuse to discard the Republican party’s commitment to a robust national-security policy that dates back to the 1950s."
Conservatives, they warn, "should understand the possible risks of dismantling an existing order that has worked tolerably well."
Tolerably well – for whom? Well, for the chickenhawks ensconced in Washington’s numerous warmongering thinktanks – but surely not for the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Somalia, and the list goes on and on. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are six feet under due to the "tolerable" "existing order" so beloved by Republican war-hawks, to say nothing of the tens of thousands of dead and horribly mutilated American soldiers who have had to go endure multiple forays into those killing fields. The dollar cost to us is measured in the trillions. And for what – so that authors Colin Dueck and Roger Zakheim could sit on their fat butts pontificating that it was oh-so-"tolerable"?
To think the American people, let alone conservatives, are going to fall for this "reform" warmongering is just plain … stupid. The proof is in the uniformly skeptical comments that accompany this supremely unconvincing polemic: not even National Review‘s regular readers (a diminishing community, to be sure) are buying it.
Exhibit #5 – Back in September, when the hysteria over ISIS was hot and heavy and the US media was focused like a laser on the plight of the previously unknown Yazidis – who, it turns out, weren’t in much danger to begin with – President Obama told us there would be "no ground troops" put into Iraq, and that those being sent were "non-combat" troops. And lots of people believed him! Especially congressional Democrats, whose constituencies aren’t exactly supportive of wading into Iraq War III.
This goes beyond stupid, and lands us smack dab in the middle of Bizarro World, because of course there’s no such thing as "non-combat" troops – and any US soldiers sent into the war zone that is Iraq are bound to come under fire. For a while the Pentagon insisted these "non-combatants" were out of harm’s way, but as Jason Ditz points out here that’s just not true: US "advisors" are coming under fire on a "regular basis."
I could go on – and on – but the evidence is in and there’s just one conclusion we can draw: our political class is downright dumb – and getting dumber all the time. What this augurs for the future of the country – nay, the world! – is too awful to contemplate on this fine winter morning, and so I’ll leave it to the imagination of my readers to contemplate the disasters that lie before us.
Is it something in the water?
For the completist: Check out my latest piece for The American Conservative: "Better Putin Than Weimar Russia."
NOTES IN THE MARGIN