Blowing ISIS Smoke Up The Sunshine State

You may remember the ‘Two Minutes Hate’ sessions in George Orwell’s classic ‘1984’, in which all citizens would participate in a group session aimed at hating whatever enemy the state happened to be hating at that particular moment. If you missed the Florida Sunshine Summit this weekend, you can just re-read the novel and get a feel for the atmosphere in Orlando. If you were watching, you saw the leading Republican candidates blow hate-smoke up a lot of wrinkly asses. And they mostly loved it.

Paris brought out the hard-line in the Republicans. The phony-tough presidential wannabes spent most of their time talking about strength, and enemies, and the failure of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, and Barack Obama, the Kenyan tyrant who kowtows to the Islamic menace. Still, this is a narrow passage to the presidency. A lot of people in the audience sat on their hands. Oh,they liked the Obama-hate part. Boots in Syria? Not so much. Seems like the idea of another decade of our kids fighting in the middle east does not even thrill red-meat Floridians. Probably because it was their kids that fought the last war.

So, the candidates were left with a lot of strong talk, mostly about nothing, because the only solution is to correct one hundred years of bad foreign policy, and we don’t have a time machine.  And, rattling sabres is precisely what ISIS wants us to do. It emboldens their base as much as it does the Republican base. But fighting another ground war is precisely the platform that will turn off a lot of voters. That makes the situation tricky. You have to sound tough, and spout meaningless solutions at the same time. This takes real politicking.

A caveat is Rand Paul, who keeps asking the question about who pays for all this foreign intervention? He is probably turning off more voters than he is turning on. You see, at this point in the campaign, the only people listening are the fierce base, concerned only with ideology. Realistic talk falls on deaf ears. Solutions mean little. Just make me feel good. When you speak to the base, they want you to blow smoke. Smoke is aromatherapy to the lunatic fringe.

The official campaign season has not even begun, but we already tire of the nonsense and non-answers on both sides. You cannot tell the truth: you don’t have any answers. In terms of foreign policy, you are muddling through this just like we are. You are muddling through this just like the present administration. Too bad you cannot say that.

Two Minutes Hate

The Summit Agenda

CSPAN Coverage