TheDC’s Jamie Weinstein: Why Republicans need a foreign policy guru like John Bolton to enter the 2012 race

Jamie Weinstein Senior Writer
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When former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton indicated to The Daily Caller last August for the first time that he had not ruled out a run for the White House in 2012, he noted that part of the reason that he would even contemplate a run would be to thrust national security issues into the national debate.

“I want to make sure that not only in the Republican Party, but in the body politic as a whole, people are aware of threats that remain to the United States,” he said then.

Monday night’s CNN Republican primary debate highlighted the need for someone like Bolton to enter the race (as others like the Washington Post’s Jen Rubin also noted during mid-debate commentary). The first foreign policy question wasn’t asked until over 80 percent of the debate had already passed. Despite America being engaged in military conflict in some form in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Yemen, the candidates were asked to answer questions like whether they supported Dancing with the Stars over American Idol before they were asked about what their plan was for Afghanistan.

This is a travesty. The Middle East is on fire, Islamist terrorism remains a potent threat, Iran’s nuclear program is increasingly worrisome, what to do about Pakistan befuddles even the savviest foreign policy gurus, China continues to pose great near- and long-term strategic concerns, and the list goes on and on and on. Yet, before we got to even a fraction of those concerns, we learned Herman Cain likes deep-dish pizza better than thin crust pizza.

Glad we cleared that up.

It is hard to imagine that Bolton would have any chance of winning the Republican nomination if he were to enter the race. But that wouldn’t be the point of his presence. While most candidates will continue to understandably focus their energies on discussing and proposing solutions for America’s floundering economy, a candidate Bolton would remind the Republican electorate and America at large that despite our economic woes, America faces urgent foreign policy challenges. Challenges that if left unaddressed could metastasize at great cost down the road.

As Bolton told TheDC last August, “What I do think, though, and what concerns me, is the lack of focus generally in the national debate about national security issues. Now, I understand the economy is in a ditch and people are concerned about it, but our adversaries overseas are not going to wait for us to get our economic house in order.”

(John Bolton on birtherism, the limits of democracy promotion and his presidential ambitions)

A foreign policy focused candidate would undeniably be good for the Republican race and Bolton seems to be the person who could best fill that role. When CNN forgets about the foreign policy challenges facing the country for almost the entirety of a two-hour debate, Bolton can be the one to chime in and remind us that the economy isn’t America’s only pressing concern.

(Why it would be unpatriotic for Chris Christie not to run for president in 2012)

Beyond that, while some candidates performed admirably, Monday night’s debate demonstrated that there is plenty of room for other contenders to get in. Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie top the list of potential entrants who would most certainly be welcome additions.

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