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Edelman: Leading GOP candidates lack governing chops

When I was a kid, I loved playing baseball and wanted to become a big leaguer. Alas, the curve ball put an end to my plans to play first base for the Dodgers, and my dream was transformed to managing them. Being a manager, though, demands that you actually know something about baseball.

And so it is with managing the most complex organization in the world, the government of the United States. Last week, we came to realize that neither of the two leading Republican candidates has the chops to step into the Oval Office. Donald Trump's foreign policy harangue exposed even more of his ignorance about, well everything related to government and governance.

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Trump's foreign policy speech delivered last Wednesday was supposed to reassure the nation that he would manage our international policy with consistency, but the speech bundled contradictory positions. For instance, he said that some groups would always be our enemies, and then that "we are always happy when old enemies become allies," presumably for a price. After saying that the United States would be "a reliable friend and ally again," he added "The countries we are defending must pay for the cost of this defense. And, if not, the U.S. must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves."

Trump isn't sure if President Obama spent too little or too much on the military, having accused Obama of both. Most frightening to our allies and enemies both was his declaration that the United States had become too predictable, and "we have to be unpredictable, starting now," followed by "The best way to achieve those goals is through a disciplined, deliberate and consistent foreign policy."

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It's impossible to see where any rational human being could say of his speech that it is "a great step in the right direction" and that it was "full of substance," but that is exactly what Tennessee Senator and foreign relations chair Bob Corker said. Our allies were less enthusiastic. For example, the former prime minister of Sweden saw Trump's position as "abandoning both democratic allies and democratic values." The German foreign minister said, "I can only hope the election campaign in the USA does not lack the perception of reality." What foreign country liked Trump's speech? Russia. As desirable as an easing of Russo-American tensions would be, I sincerely doubt that Putin's praising Trump was done with America's best interests at heart.

Let us not ignore the other Republican front-runner, Ted Cruz, whose major contribution to the campaign has been to make Trump look better in comparison to himself. Unlike Trump, Sen. Cruz has maintained a consistent position, namely to toss rhetorical bombs at the Republican establishment.

There's not much uniting Republicans and Democrats this year; opposition to Cruz might be the only thing on which there is universal agreement in political circles across the spectrum. After getting shellacked in last week's primaries, Cruz drew fire from former House Speaker John Boehner. He said of Cruz, "Lucifer in the flesh … I have never worked with a more miserable son of a [gun] in my life." Boehner realizes that successful governance requires cooperation both within one's own caucus and with one's political opponents. I am not alone in believing that without Cruz' toxic effect on the Senate, Boehner would have been able to maintained a constructive relationship with congressional Democrats, sparing the country much of the bickering and hatred that characterizes Washington today.

The Koch brothers are well-known for supporting conservative policies and politicians, but even they have had enough of these two. Charles Koch went so far as to say that it's possible another Clinton would be preferable to having a Republican President, a statement only slightly less surprising than it'd be to see Benjamin Netanyahu and Ayatollah Khamenei eating pork chops and singing Kumbayah with each other — or me managing the Dodgers.

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In July, the Republican Party will alienate half of its base by nominating one of these two; or perhaps it'll turn its back on the democratic process, selecting someone for whom no one voted. Either way, the GOP is in for a long, hard summer.

Mitch Edelman writes from Finksburg. Email him at mjemath@gmail.com

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