Kristol is commenting on the recent intra-GOP spat between Sen. Ron Paul (R-KY) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). McCain referred to Paul as a “wacko bird” for his isolationist tendencies and his 13-hour filibuster critique of President Obama’s targeted killing program (McCain has since apologized), while Paul shot back last week at CPAC, saying McCain’s foreign policy wing of the GOP as “has grown stale and moss covered.”
Kristol jumped in to defend McCain, arguing that Republicans should try again to convince Americans that they shouldn’t be so bearish on war:
Now we’re weary again. And there are many politicians all too willing to seek power and popularity by encouraging weariness rather than point out its perils. [...]
The task of a serious opposition party is to rally the nation to its responsibilities and long-term interests. The task of GOP political leaders is to educate the public about the dangers of the world and to inspire people to rise above their weariness. The task of American conservatives is not to let an understandable Obama-weariness turn into weariness in fighting the nation’s enemies or in supporting our troops in the field.
Got that? The Republican Party must convince the American people that they must RISE ABOVE their collective skepticism about war solving America’s problems. But why? Because Kristol and Co. want to go to war with Iran. “It’s long since been time for the United States to speak to this regime in the language it understands—force,” Kristol wrote in the Standard nearly two years ago. Last year his factually challenged pressure group called for an end to negotiations with Iran, saying in an ad campaign that “it’s time to act.” And what was the main reason Kristol opposed Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense? Hagel apparently was too skeptical about starting war with Iran.
But Americans don’t want to go to war with Iran — partly because of war weariness, but also because it’s not a very good idea. Kristol knows this, which is why he’s trying to recruit Republicans to his cause to help him convince us otherwise. Who does he have so far? From his new Standard piece:
[Rep. Tom] Cotton [R-AR] is 35 years old. He’s not stale or moss-covered. A combat veteran, he understands real war weariness. But he also understands it needs to be resisted and overcome. Above all, he understands, as did the GOP of old, the GOP of Nixon, Reagan, and Bush, that while we may not be interested in war, our enemies remain interested in us.
Cotton was last seen suggesting that Iraq may have had something to do with 9/11. Perhaps then Kristol does know what he’s doing.