Robert Kagan's Premature and Wrongheaded Decision to Endorse Clinton
Today, most of us do not accept Heilbrunn’s characterization of Hillary Clinton during her reign at State, but Heilbrunn sheds light on why it might be easy to “imagine Mrs. Clinton’s making room for the neocons in her administration.” That is if she still adheres to her former interventionist tendencies. If she thinks it would help her with a man like Kagan on board, it would be easier to show her critics she’s tough on national security and the use of American power.
So far the jury is still out, and Kagan stands alone among his former interventionist colleagues in pledging his allegiance to Clinton, and in completely repudiating the Republican Party. I can see that should Donald Trump get the GOP nomination, many serious conservatives, concerned about U.S. foreign policy, might then announce their support of Clinton.
What is surprising is that Kagan has not waited until we know the outcome of the GOP primary race. There could even be a brokered convention, in which the GOP will turn to someone else like Paul Ryan as a compromise between all factions. Or, perhaps, Rubio’s strong performance in the last debate will give him enough of an edge to be truly competitive.
Kagan writes as if Trump has not only won, but is just a symptom of a debased and deluded Republican Party, which was already on a death march before his arrival on the scene. The party did this through its “wild obstructionism” demonstrated by threats to close down the government; the call for “nullification of Supreme Court decisions"; the view that “compromise is betrayal”; and calls by many Republicans to overthrow their own leadership in the House and Senate. This might be true of Ted Cruz’s followers and of Republicans in the House (the famous suicide caucus), but other Republicans in the Senate did not go along with or support Cruz’s tactics. That’s why they don’t seem to like him much.
Next, Kagan argues as if there were no serious or valid arguments to limit immigration into the United States. To support it, he accuses the Republican Party of being “the well-primed gusher of popular anger, xenophobia and yes, bigotry.” In fact, there is a reasonable case to be made that many of the eleven million illegal immigrants in the country are making it more difficult for the country’s working class to get jobs such as those in Trump’s exclusive Florida resort, where native Floridians were turned down after applying for a job because Trump hired cheaper foreign labor from Eastern Europe. Kagan has a right to favor a policy of less restrictive immigration and to make a case for it, but he writes as if there is no case at all on the other side.
Next, he writes as if all Republican critiques of Obama’s policies (except his own, of course) are based on “Obama hatred,” which he calls “a racially tinged derangement syndrome that made any charge plausible and any opposition justified.” In saying this, Kagan is using an old leftist and constantly repeated trope, that the reason conservatives oppose Obama’s policies is because they are racist and against an African-American president. (That also does not explain how even in South Carolina, whites voted for a conservative African-American, Tim Scott, who is now senator from that state.)
Not only that, but Kagan argues that “many Republicans have fallen back on a mindless Islamophobia.” His Islamophobia accusation certainly can stick with the Republican frontrunner, who is demanding a temporary suspension of Muslim immigrants into America. Generally, however, the charge is used by the left to suppress anyone who is alert to the very real threat posed by radical Islamists. That is why the administration termed one attack of an Islamist who was motivated by radical Islam as a case of “workplace violence.”
Yes, too many Republicans waited too long to attack Trump, assuming he would quickly fall. It’s true that until the last debate, they fought each other and refused to take on Trump. Rick Perry did early in the campaign, and it certainly didn’t help him or Jeb Bush.
I think that if he were serious, Kagan could have waited to see whether or not Marco Rubio—who essentially has the same foreign policy perspective as Kagan—has a chance at the nomination. But he hasn’t. Should Hillary win, I actually hope Kagan is considered for a top appointment and has some influence. But he’ll have to vie with the likes of Sidney and Max Blumenthal, and the coterie of other leftists she’ll bring into her administration from Bernie’s campaign.