The Cable

The 2012 Horse Whisperers

It's officially summer, and the GOP presidential campaign is heating up. Tim Pawlenty is planning more stumping in Iowa, Michele Bachmann has now officially entered the race, and multiple potential candidates are waiting in the wings -- preparing to enter the fray if the leading contenders stumble. And though all the pundits have proclaimed that this election will be dominated by talk of the economy and jobs, there has been a surprising amount of foreign-policy chatter in the first few months -- even though the major Republican candidates are still forming their brain trusts and their foreign-policy identities.

So who's whispering in the ear of the front-runners? Who's advising them of the sound position to take for an electorate both war weary and yet concerned about national security? Of the four main candidates right now, only Jon Huntsman can creditably claim to be a foreign-policy expert -- and he's looking like a realist. Mitt Romney is trying to balance his talk of renewed American primacy with his realization that the country is both tired of unlimited interventions and cash-strapped. Pawlenty is staking out his ground as a hawk but doesn't want to be tagged with the neoconservative label. Bachmann is also sounding a hawkish note, taking the mantle from Sarah Palin in pushing the Tea Party's isolationist impulses toward an aggressive national security agenda.

Read the rest of The 2012 Horse Whisperers here:

The Cable

Corker: Libya debate should be next

GOP senators fought back today against the Democratic leadership's plan to debate and vote on the Libya war this week, but, following that episode, the leader of that effort said it should be the next item on the Senate's agenda.

Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN), Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and several other GOP senators held a late Tuesday afternoon press conference to celebrate the fact that they forced Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to scuttle his plans to hold a cloture vote on the Kerry-McCain resolution authorizing the military intervention in Libya.

"The events of this afternoon were very, very significant," Sessions said at the presser. "The Senate has sent a message to the leadership that we expect in this recess period that we do real work on the financial condition of our country, which includes budget issues and the debt ceiling. Those matters are of extreme focus for American and we should focus on that."

Of course, there isn't likely to be any floor debate on the debt limit this week, because those negotiations are stalled and being held behind closed doors. But there won't be any debate over the Libya war either, thanks to the efforts of the GOP caucus.

So when should the Senate get around to debating the Libya war, according to these senators? The Cable pressed Corker on that question at the press conference. After several attempts to skirt the question, Corker declared that the Libya debate was a lower priority because it won't force the administration to actually change its actions there, but nevertheless should be the Senate's next order of business.

Here's the exchange:

Josh Rogin: There are a lot of senators who want to debate the Libya war. It's been almost four months since we attacked Libya. When do you propose we get back to that?

Bob Corker: I think most people know that the resolution that's before us was defeated in the House. One of the things that has been a misnomer, the president has never asked for authorization of Libya.... What he did say is he would like to have a "sense of the Senate" resolution in support. In a cute way, he's tried to bypass the War Powers [Resolution]. I would have respected them more if they would have just said, "Hey we think [the War Powers Resolution] is unconstitutional." So there's no question that we need to return to the issue of Libya, because you cannot have somebody calling something "not hostilities" when it is. Let's settle this once and for all.... I think we will get back to that.

JR: When?

BC: There was nothing we were going to do this week in the Senate that in any way would have affected what was actually happening on the ground in Libya, nothing. Everybody knew that. The Senate might have voiced its opinion, but since the House already voted against the same resolution, nothing was going to change. So you're right, we need to get back to that.

JR: When?

BC: In my opinion -- I don't set the agenda -- that ought to be the very next item after we deal with these financial matters, that are more pressing and are something that we can actually affect, because again what we were going to do on Libya, which we are not going to do now, really wasn't going to affect the activities there either on the ground or in the air one iota.

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