The Right's Losing Its Fight over U.S. Military Policy

Article excerpt

These are very tricky times for conservatives in America. For starters, they don't really have a candidate. OK, that's familiar. More unusual: They don't really have an opponent to hate.

Can that be?

Conservatives still hate Obamacare (even if whatever we have that isn't Obamacare seems worse than any possible replacement could be). They still rant and rave about the deficit and stimulus money and even about bailing out their friends and relations.

But the one thing that conservatives cannot rant and rave about is what has been their most predictable refrain since the Cold War: national security. Of all the things President Obama has done to conservatives in America, this may be the cruelest. He has taken away their national security argument.

Democrats are supposed to be "weak" on foreign policy, the kind of people who love to talk about the U.N. instead of unilateral action; of diplomacy, not air power; of bringing the troops home, not sending more to serve abroad. It is because they don't want to be called any of those things that the party would jump to nominate a candidate with military experience, even if he had more experience opposing military positions than serving in them.

Barack Obama is definitely a different kind of Democrat. He is not afraid to be called a liberal. On the other hand, by many liberals' lights, he isn't one.

On national security, perhaps to everyone's surprise, he has done exactly what he said he would do. He said he would reduce American troop presence in Iraq. He said he would put priority on Afghanistan and even increase troops to get the upper hand. He said he would support efforts to secure democracy around the world.

Some days, liberals definitely have a problem figuring him out. …