When I started this piece it was meant to be a full-throated endorsement of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) for president. I believe he is at this moment the best candidate for Republicans to go forward with, given his record as governor and the fact that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the favorite to win the Democratic nomination at this time.
But instead I am writing this as a message to Gov. Walker. You need to toughen up and stand up to a little criticism from Republican circles and the (at times) frustrating outrage treadmill.
Of course I am referring to the botched handling of Liz Mair’s hiring and forced resignation. I don’t know Ms. Mair personally, but knew of her and know that she is very good at her job. Her ideology doesn’t line up with mine all the time, but because she is as good at her social media work as anyone it didn’t bother me at all to see that you hired her.
Now it wasn’t as if her tweets were hiding somewhere you couldn’t find them. So not knowing them when you hired her is a nonsense excuse. But you then compounded your error by not even standing behind her for a day. Hiring a key staffer and then dismissing them in the same day is rarely a good look. You should’ve stood behind her and taken the flack.
Yes, you are ahead in Iowa, and keeping Ms. Mair would’ve damaged that in the short term. But in the long term, being a politician of conviction and politely telling Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) and others that they don’t and won’t have a say in who you hire for your nascent presidential bid is very good for you. This is March 2015; there is a lot of time to assuage caucus-goers concerns (if they had any) and get their votes.
Gov. Walker, as I said above I believe in you; but this is a deep Republican field with several candidates I would be proud to support, even if I am not sure they are the best choice as a candidate or for president. You are the right person for this job, but you aren’t the only right person. So please show some of the tenacity that helped you defeat the unions in your state and, to use a famous phrase, toughen up buttercup!
Yemen and the 2016 race
There are a lot of major issues that will bubble to the surface, but the 2016 election could be unique because foreign policy may rival the economy as the most important issue to voters, a rare event (and as a reminder Foreign Matters covers international news at 10 p.m. on Thursday nights). Now in addition to all the other problems American is having in foreign affairs, Yemen is devolving as a state.
The pro-Western president, Adbu Radu Mansour Hadi, was deposed and fled to South Yemen and its capital, Aden. The Iran-backed Houthi government is starting to attack the South. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is already involved. Now Islamic State has struck by blowing up a mosque full of Houthi Muslims (http://www.timesofisrael.com/yemen-worshipers-were-cursing-jews-when-mosque-blown-up/). So that’s an Al-Qaeda affiliate, a pro-Iranian government, ISIS and a pro-Western regime all fighting one another. And as it stands there is a very likely chance that the outcome will not be favorable to America or its allies.
Now how does this link to the 2016 race? Here’s how. A strong, prosperous America would probably have troops in Yemen as part of a multinational force to keep the peace. And that would be necessary, because an Iranian-backed regime or a terrorist regime in the Arabian Peninsula would be very bad for the stability of the Middle East.
But we can’t because we are racked with debt, and have a President that does not believe in America projecting power in the world. Let me add that a strong and prosperous America would’ve put ISIS down in Syria and found a way to get Bashir Assad out of power in that country.
I believe the United States is a country blessed with God’s favor. You don’t go from a crippling Civil War with half the country destroyed to the most powerful country in the world in less than 100 years without being blessed (especially as virulent racism kept this country from reaching its full potential during that period). And the power the USA gained brought great responsibility. Part of that is being the world’s policeman. And if the last six years should teach us anything, it is that American can’t be absent on the world stage.
But right now with over $18 trillion in debt we can’t do it. We can’t stop what is happening in Yemen. We are treading water with ISIS in Iraq and allowing Iran to fill the vacuum. Russia has taken land from Georgia and is destabilizing Ukraine, and there is no consequence for their actions.
And that won’t change unless we elect a president that will allow the economy to grow us out of the stifling cycle of debt and deficit we are in. A prosperous USA can not only defend our homeland but strike out at evil all over the world. Because there is no one else that will.