Last night, at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in New York City, President Obama had something to say about that:
Have you noticed that every one of these candidates say, uh, "Obama's weak! He's, you know— Putin's kicking sand in his face! When I talk to Putin, he's gonna straighten out! Just looking at him, I'm gonna—he's gonna be..." [laughter] And then, it turns out, they can't handle a buncha CNBC moderators at the debate! [laughter, cheers, and applause] I mean, lemme tell ya: If ya can't handle— If you can't handle those guys...? [laughter] You know, then I don't think the Chinese and the Russians are going to be too worried about you. [laughter]BOOM.
President Obama is making a great point here, even though it's cloaked in deserved ridicule. Among the Republican field, there's a distinct lack of diplomatic skill and an abundance of agita. And that is a real concern. Because the office of the president requires diplomacy and patience and grace, particularly in international relations.
Despite their omnipresent argument against Obama in '08 that he was unqualified and had too little experience for the presidency, Republicans now want us to accept a number of candidates—including field leaders Donald Trump and Ben Carson—who have never held political office. As though business negotiations are the same as diplomatic negotiations. They are, in fact, fundamentally different.
And even the GOP candidates who have held office are long on aggrieved petulance and short on measured strategy.
It's not like there aren't Republicans who have the experience and temperament for the job: Condoleezza Rice, for example. I may disagree with her on just about everything, but I wouldn't fear that she'd be an international disgrace when hosting a state dinner or meeting with the G8 leaders.
There just isn't anyone who has those credentials and constitution currently running. To the contrary, every one of their candidates would be a disaster on the global stage.
Say what you will about Obama being too cool at times, but his thoughtful approach has meant that he's never made a complete ass—or even a partial ass!—of himself representing this country.
Which is certainly more than one can say for our last Republican president.
That doesn't mean I've always agreed with President Obama's foreign policy decisions—I haven't—but policy and politics aren't the same thing. Which is easy to forget in the US, where our president is both head of government and head of state.
The Republican Party seems to have forgotten this altogether. Their candidates are all running for head of government, but not a single one of them is running for head of state.