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Politics

Robert Menendez: Dinosaur or Phoenix?

Trying to find a Democrat hawk is like trying to find a Republican who wants to raise taxes. A species long past endangered, on its way to being extinct.
But New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, who also chairs the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is the exception to that rule.
A member of the Democratic Party yet hawkish on American foreign policy, Menendez at first glance may seem like a dinosaur, but could be a phoenix rising from the political ashes: a portend of things to come.
Matthew Kaminski in a recent Wall Street journal piece writes about the Senator’s consistency in terms of foreign policy. It was Menendez, Kaminski reminds, who wanted to train Syrian rebels in the first place, and put forth the ideas into proposed legislation – all until the Obama White House “got cold feet.”
As Americans are growing less and less tolerant of terrorist groups throughout the world, particularly with ISIS’ recent beheadings of American journalists, Menendez’ hawkish tendencies, viewed as all-but-obscure among virtually everyone not named John McCain, are suddenly mainstream.
As Kaminski aptly points out, it is Menendez’ consistency that gives him credibility, as scores of his Democratic colleagues will have a hard time avoiding the label of “poll chasers” (“chasers” being a euphemism in polite company), considering how they have wavered on the issue depending on which direction the political wind happens to be blowing.
Kaminski likens Menendez to the Democratic hawks of yesteryear, not least of which Henry Jackson and Pat Moynihan, both from the other side of the Hudson (i.e., New York), and Jeane Kirkpatrick, who later became a staunch conservative Republican and a longtime advisor to President Reagan.
Menendez clearly differs with President Obama in terms of the use of ground troops. If need be, the senator would use them. “You can’t find terrorists with one hand tied behind your back,” he said, the Journal reported.
As the situation with ISIS, as well as Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s military adventurism, intensifies, Menendez’ role will become more prominent, and perhaps his viewpoints further vindicated.
As Kaminski concludes, “perhaps the death of the hawkish Democrat has been exaggerated.”

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