In re: the subject below, GFR says she thinks “it would be a politically disqualifying act for any presidential candidate to take military action off the table in dealing with a country that is a potential regional threat, and that it would be folly for any group on the left to demand this of them.” As I say, my strong guess is that this is what Ken Baer thinks as well, since he is an experienced political consultant but doesn’t seem to discuss the merits of this issue with a particularly wide range of experts.
I’m open to that possibility. There are many things which I believe to be true which I also believe it would be unwise to say in a presidential campaign. On the other hand, I have no idea what the evidentiary basis for the claim that saying “all options are on the table” with Iran is necessary to be politically viable in America. Before everyone rushes to accept that judgment, I think people should present some backing for the claim. Polling data, focus groups, something. Similarly, before liberals demand that candidates explicitly foreswear military options we should consider that politics is politics. My preference would be for candidates to not say anything at all about whether or not military options are “on the table.” I think inserting that phrase into speeches is a hollow effort to “look tough” that accomplishes nothing, while inserting the reverse phrase into speeches would be weird. Candidates should just say what they think we should do.