Political Candidates Not Candid on Big Issues
TNI editor Nik Gvosdev observes a “disconnect” between the discussion among the foreign policy elite and the 2008 field:
Last night, former Secretary of State James Baker spoke at a small gathering at Citronelle at a National Interest dinner to discuss his recent essay in the magazine. To encourage a free and frank discussion between Baker and his audience, including several members of the Senate, the proceedings were off the record–and this allowed for genuine exchange.
My dinner companions and I, however, were struck how the 2008 presidential campaigns seem unable or unwilling to engage in the type of frank, pragmatic discussion we were hearing, and why Baker’s “Ten Maxims” which seem pretty common sense provoke such a strong reaction that somehow this is striking at core American values.
The irony, though, is that this frank discussion took place off the record among policy experts who, so far as I know, have nothing at stake but their reputation. If James Baker, a wealthy wise man who likely harbors no future political ambition, is unwilling to speak for attribution about things he’s already published in a prestigious international affairs journal, why should we expect relative foreign policy novices trying to build support from 50 percent plus one of the American electorate to take such risks?