When Eli goes long-form, you could call it a shreditorial. His 2008 TNR piece about the counterterrorism import of Obama aligning with Richard Clarke's crew was one of the most prescient pieces written about foreign policy during the campaign. (Cough.) Now he's done it again.
This is the best overview I've yet seen of the GOP presidential field's foreign policy perspectives. Sharia panic is becoming a lodestar. Neoconservatism appears in eclipse. Someone needs to tell Mitt Romney what he believes. Read the whole thing, but I want to make one quick observation and then a broader point.
[B]ehind the scenes, Romney continues to have an ideologically eclectic group of official and unofficial advisers. In addition to Reiss and Senor, the others he listens to on foreign policy are former Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey; Jim Talent, a former U.S. senator from Missouri; and Cofer Black, the head of the CIA’s counterterrorist center before and after September 11 and later vice chairman of the controversial security contractor company Blackwater.
Whaaa? Kerry Healey? Her foreign policy experience and viewpoint is... what, exactly?
OK, for the real thing: Eli spends a lot of time, admirably, parsing the candidates' statements. But a better window into what a politician is going to do as a statesman comes from who s/he hires as advisers -- as Eli showed in his Clarke/Obama piece. And Eli does a great job in showing Frank Gaffney's influence on Michelle Bachmann. If I have a criticism of his piece, it's that there's not more like that. The blockquote I've chosen is the major exception.
To be fair, it's difficult to get at staff choices in the July of an odd-numbered year. Josh Rogin showed how fluid the advisory field is. But it means that Eli probably should have softened his conclusions about the 2011 neocon eclipse. The neos may not have a clear presidential champion (Pawlenty?), but they've also got lots of think-tank perches and Hill staff positions through which to form the infrastructure of an administration. It matters who goes to which campaign, and whether it's, say, John Bolton or Mitchell Reiss or Frank Gaffney who gets Deputy Secretary of Whatever.
Still: excellent piece, you should read it, etc.