It may seem like ancient history, but in the not-too-distant past, the Republican Party took foreign policy seriously. When it came to international affairs, the GOP had several influential “grown-ups” who served in positions of authority.
In recent years, however, as the Republican Party has become increasingly radicalized, the GOP’s elder statesmen have fallen out of favor. Members of the party’s old guard discovered that they agreed with many key Democratic priorities – the international nuclear agreement with Iran, the New START treaty, etc. – only to discover that contemporary GOP officials no longer cared what the Republican foreign policy establishment had to say.
It’s even reached the point at which the party’s “grown-ups” are comfortable endorsing a Democratic presidential candidate.
Last week, Richard Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State in the Bush/Cheney administration and a longtime member of the Republican Party’s foreign policy establishment, conceded, “If Donald Trump is the nominee, I would vote for Hillary Clinton.” Yesterday, as USA Today noted, brought a related surprise.
Brent Scowcroft, who served as national security adviser to two Republican presidents, said Wednesday he’s backing Democrat Hillary Clinton for president.In a statement, Scowcroft said Clinton “brings truly unique experience and perspective to the White House,” citing her time as secretary of State, as a U.S. senator and as first lady.“She brings deep expertise in international affairs, and a sophisticated understanding of the world,” Scowcroft said. No where in the statement did he allude to Clinton’s opponent, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. “I believe Hillary Clinton has the wisdom and experience to lead our country at this critical time,” the statement concluded.
Scowcroft served as national security adviser to Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush. He also held key positions in Richard Nixon’s administration and served as chairman of George W. Bush’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.
As MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell put it yesterday, when Scowcroft endorses Clinton, “you know something is wrong in the GOP world.”
Don’t be too surprised if former Secretary of State Colin Powell follows suit before Election Day.
Also note, last week, former Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Dick Lugar (R) did not endorse Clinton, but the retired Indiana Republican conceded his party’s presidential nominee does not have a good grasp of foreign, military, or intelligence policy.
And, of course, neither H.W. Bush nor W. Bush are prepared to offer their support to Trump.
The news isn’t all bad for Trump – Donald Rumsfeld appears to be a fairly enthusiastic supporter of the 2016 candidate – but it’s nevertheless striking to watch the Republican Party’s most credible elder statesman move further and further away from the GOP, its agenda, and its national ticket.