By Matt Welch
Was it all just a bad dream? Feels like 1997 all over again–first David Brooks calls for a hacktacular new "National Greatness" movement in American politics, and now Sen John McCain (R-Ariz.) is snarling about "protectionism and isolationism" in the GOP.
"I think there are going to be some tensions within our party," McCain said during a conference put on by Foreign Policy Initiative, a DC-based think tank. "I worry a lot about the rise of protectionism and isolationism in the Republican Party."
A prime example, McCain continued, was Rand Paul, Kentucky's next U.S. Senator.
"I admire his victory, but ... already he has talked about withdrawals [and] cuts in defense," McCain said.
A timely reminder that for a whole helluva lot of Republicans, the business of America is expanding its unipolar status as global military hegemon. Seeing Rand Paul on CNN a day or two after the election, talking cogently to Wolf Blitzer about how no serious agenda of fiscal responsibility can avoid scaling back military spending, was almost an out-of-body experience. You mean...Republican senators...can say that? Out loud and everything? Well, they used to, and they finally are again, and they may have willing partners in a weakened Democratic Party, all of which is why the National Greatness gang is trying to snuff out the GOP strain before it spreads.
McCain once told me that the United States needs to spend a good deal more than 50 percent of the world's total defense budget, an anecdote you can read about in my 2007 book, McCain: The Myth of a Maverick. Speaking of which, I was on Warren Olney's excellent public radio program To the Point yesterday, talking about McCain's opposition to repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell. Read/listen here.