Maureen Dowd’s “Why not Debtor’s Prison”

Maureen Dowd  had some pithy words about the foreign policies of President Obama and Gov. Romney in her op-ed in the New York Times on September 26th  “Why not Debtor’s Prison,” and made some observations that readers to this blog might find of interest.

I don’t often take long quotes from a journal but this one is too good to not share.  Many newspapers are noting that foreign policy has been playing a greater roll in this campaign than would be normal, especially given the economic situation. But it does need attention and our concern especially if we do not make wise choices.  Our focus on the debates on foreign policy will continue and hope all can see the presidential debate on foreign policy on October 22nd.

“At least the president has a foreign policy. Romney and Paul Ryan haven’t spent time thinking and speaking a lot about foreign policy. They have simply taken the path of least resistance and parroted the views of their neocon advisers. They talk all tough at Iran and Syria and label the president a weak apologist and buildup bogymen and rant about how America must dictate events in the Middle East. That’s not a doctrine; it’s a treacherous neocon echo.

It’s amazing that many of the neocons who were involved in the Iraq debacle are back riding high. (Foreign Policy magazine reports that 17 of Romney’s 24 special advisers on foreign policy were in George W. Bush’s administration.) But no one has come along to replace them, or reinstitute some kind of George H.W. Bush-James Baker-Brent Scowcroft realpolitik internationalism.

The neocons are still where the GOP intellectual energy is, and they’re still in the blogosphere hammering candidates who stray from their hawkish orthodoxy. Democrats have claimed the international center once inhabited by Bush senior and his advisers.

On foreign and domestic policy, Republicans have outsourced their brains to right-wing think tanks. It’s one thing for conservatives at the American Enterprise Institute and other think tanks to sit around and theorize about the number of people who are “dependent” on government programs and to deplore the trend, or to strategize on privatizing Medicare. If you’ve got a lot of people on government programs, their response is not to help those people get off the programs; it’s to cut the programs.

The Romney campaign has turned conservative theory into ideology and gone off the cliff with it. If you want to inspire, lead and unite people, it won’t fly to take ideologically driven findings and present them unvarnished to voters.

At the Clinton Global Initiative Tuesday, Romney talked about tying foreign aid to “the promotion of work and the fostering of free enterprise” in the Middle East and other developing countries.

It was a variation on what Romney said on the infamous leaked tape to the fat-cat donors about 47 percent of the country being victims and moochers, promulgating the idea that any aid makes people worse off instead of better off. Next he will want to bring back debtors’ prisons.”

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