On “Morning Joe” this very a.m., I held up a book. (No, not my new book The Queen, about Hillary Clinton. I am a shameless promoter — going so far as to ask Donald Trump on air to do a plug, which he did.)
It is a book I predicted to Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, John Heilemann and Steve Schmidt would change the arc of the Republican presidential race: Exceptional: Why the World Needs A Powerful America, by former Vice President Dick Cheney and Liz Cheney, the veep’s daughter and longtime senior State Department official.
Exceptional has the potential to take the GOP out of its August fixation on immigration and return it to the pressing issues of national security and defense spending that ought to be driving the presidential nomination process.
The book surprises from the first chapter, which focuses on FDR and George Marshall and their decision (after the latter had forcefully lobbied the former) to begin he rearmament of America in 1939. From there the book traces the nearly unbroken national consensus of 70 years that America ought always to be the most powerful nation on the planet, and that by being so, much good was done for us and for all.
That consensus faltered a bit in the ’70s under the unsteady stewardship of Jimmy Carter, and again in the ’90s more out of relief at having won the Cold War than an ideological shift by Bill Clinton.
The Cheneys argue, persuasively and with much recourse to the words and deeds of President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, that the past seven years mark a huge breach with the post-World War II consensus, far greater and deeper, more dangerous and damaging than the Carter frolic and detour.
Page after page reviews the awful record of retreat and unilateral concession that Obama and Clinton (and now Secretary of State John Kerry) have compiled. At the end of Exceptional, a diligent reader will be depressed, and even the Cheneys admit to having been dispirited at times over the years since 2009.
Exceptional, though, is a call to specific action, and it is directed at voters and political elites alike. The book is very much in the tradition of Richard Nixon’s The Real War, which appeared in the early summer of 1980 and was carried about by Ronald Reagan to send a message about what the GOP nominee was reading. In the same way, Exceptional ought now to be in the hands of every would-be nominee, a very visible shout-out to a policy of peace through strength embodied in Ronald Reagan and practiced by George W. Bush and his vice president.
The Left will jeer, of course, but the world on fire around us demands a first responder. Vice President and Liz Cheney have penned an unmistakable reminder of which country that must be and of the consequences of turning our collective backs on our role in the world.
Obama’s “Leading from behind” foreign policy has led to instability across the Middle East, a massive refugee crisis, a probing China in the South China Sea, Crimea annexed and war in eastern Ukraine and a deadly deal with Tehran.
The unapologetic voice for American strength will do well in the winter of 2016, and next November. In last Friday’s speeches, Senator Marco Rubio and Governor Scott Walker both sounded these very notes. The Cheneys’ book will hopefully prod others to follow that pair’s lead.
This column was originally posted on WashingtonExaminer.com.