Most agree that the 2016 Vice Presidential debate was utterly unwatchable and will thankfully not be repeated. The conversation resembled a creepy middle-school gym teacher needlessly interrupting the varsity football coach at a high-school assembly.
I was never a fan of the Pence pick, but the governor has mostly proven himself a loyal lieutenant in the Trump army, deflecting and reframing most criticisms of his chief.
But last night, we reached the limit of Pence’s loyalty—and it didn’t involve matters of a beauty-queen porn star or a female journalist menstruating through her eyeballs.
Arguably, Trump’s foreign-policy ideas are more radical than his hardline on immigration.
Trump has articulated his opposition to illegal immigration with more gusto than any presidential candidate of recent memory, to be sure. But his actual policies remain just within the Overton window of American “conservatism.” In other words, a mainstream, CPAC-going right-winger would at least debate Trump’s immigration position, or even defend it, even if he doesn’t much like it.
Trump’s skepticism of the Iraq War and foreign intervention shares much with Ron and Rand Paul, and is thus barely tolerated and actively opposed by most “conservatives” and Republicans. But Trump’s nationalism—in particular, his pro-Russian views—are totally new and, indeed, unthinkable.
The notion that America has no great conflicting interests with Russia and much common ground . . . that Washington should collaborate with Moscow in supporting the civilized autocrat Bashar al-Assad in opposing Islamic radicals . . . these ideas are almost pornographic in the minds of most self-styled “conservatives.”
The times are a-changing. But we shouldn’t underestimate the degree to which Trump is in singular opposition to the conservative establishment and bi-partisan foreign-policy consensus.