Will the GOP Candidates Try to Reignite Voters’ Fears?


(Photo: AP/Morry Gash) Republican presidential candidates take the state during the November 11 GOP Debate in Milwaukee.

 

Paul Waldman | The American Prospect | November 15, 2015

It’s easy to believe that the way things are today is the way they’re going to stay, to be be swayed by the momentary intensity of a situation into thinking its effects will be longer-lasting than they are. So it might be that a few months from now, the attacks that took place in Paris on Friday will have exerted no meaningful pull on American policy and American politics. But a few days out, it sure feels familiar. Fear—its presence among the people, but even more so its exploitation by politicians—is back.

Speaking of which, Ted Cruz said that we should accept only Christian refugees, a position made all the more heartwarming by the fact that he said it at a “rally for religious liberty.”

No one was more energized by the news from France than the Republicans running for president, who fell all over each other trying to see who could sound the toughest. Marco Rubio declared, “This is a clash of civilizations,” as though ISIS were in fact its own civilization. Ben Carson, displaying his usual commitment to factual accuracy, attacked the Obama administration for “bringing 200,000 people over here from that region,” even though the actual number of refugees we plan to take in is only 10,000. Speaking of which, Ted Cruz said that we should accept only Christian refugees, a position made all the more heartwarming by the fact that he said it at a “rally for religious liberty.” Mike Huckabee released a statement saying that because of the attack we should revoke the nuclear agreement with Iran, I guess because all Muslims are scary.

And Jeb Bush, super-macho-man that he is, said “We should declare war” on ISIS, apparently because he doesn’t know what it actually means to declare war. And that’s not to mention the inane attacks on Hillary Clinton for her unwillingness to repeat the words “radical Islam,” as though doing so would actually accomplish anything.

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