Tony Blankley

We don't yet know how the tea party members are thinking on these issues. I went to several tea party meetings, moderated some discussions and talked with hundreds of attendees. The topic of foreign affairs rarely came up -- understandably, given the domestic economic crisis that torments the public. But, for what it is worth, my sense is that the tea party members are not dramatically different in their foreign policy attitudes that previous freshman classes have been.

There has always been a tendency for new, inexperienced candidates for federal office to be more focused on domestic issues initially -- because their voters are. But for GOP congressmen and senators, their fundamental values -- a powerful patriotism, a sense of right and wrong, and a practical understanding of human nature as capable of great evil -- tends over time to lead them to a firmer foreign and military policy posture than that held by liberal Democrats.

But my reason for writing this column is that, while I share the senator's concern, I fear that the worst way to gain the objective of infusing the new congressmen with an alert view of foreign danger is to call them names.

The world is shifting, and the senator would do well to hold firm many multi-term congressmen. The way to win their support is to make the strongest objective argument in each individual case.

For instance, regarding the Start treaty with Russia, many of its skeptics are established neoconservatives who don't contest the objective, but seriously doubt the effectiveness of the details. To call such men and women isolationist is risible.

Reaganite foreign policy experts have always been much more skeptical of particular disarmament treaties. And with China rushing ahead on their nuclear program, we need to consider our stockpile requirements in the Chinese context as much as we do with the poorer Russian capabilities.

The clarity of Americans divided between hawks and doves is fading. We are entering the more ambiguous age of owls and vultures. Effective foreign policy arguments will take heed of these, perhaps unfortunate, developments.

Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.

In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.

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