In only the latest episode of a long line Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin‘s uncritical stenography of her ideological comrades — even when they’re obviously wrong — comes today’s comment from Brookings Institution pundit Robert Kagan that there is no domestic constituency for defense spending. In a post attacking the “Gang of Six” debt plan, Rubin quotes an e-mail from Kagan:
[The proposed cuts are] utterly irresponsible and dangerous to national security. Also cowardly, since defense has no domestic constituency, while entitlements — the real source of our fiscal crisis — do.
Leaving aside the fear-mongering bit about how cutting the U.S.’ massive defense budget might suddenly bring the caliphate flooding into America, the notion that defense spending has no domestic constituency seems fantastical at even a moment’s glance. Writing for the security blog InkSpots, pseudonymous defense analyst Gulliver dashes out five of such constituencies: “1. The U.S. and global defense industry;” “2. Communities dependent on defense dollars;” “3. Members of Congress;” “4. the Defense Department and the military services;” “5. commentators, advocates, and pseudo-scholars.”
Those broad and obvious categories are what makes Kagan’s assertion so baffling. The defense industry alone pours tons of money into politics. In the last presidential election cycle, individuals and PACs associated with defense gave about $24 million and, for each of the past three years, the defense industry has spent about $150 million a year on lobbying efforts.
Naturally, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle react well to this cash and get behind pet defense projects for their districts exactly because that money brings jobs and therefore, the idea goes, more votes. So not only is the constituency there, but they’re well represented on the Hill, too.
Defense’s domestic constituency is so painfully obvious that one wonders what Kagan was thinking when he typed out the e-mail. And he’s often thought of as the “smart neocon.”