PARTY ASYMMETRY IN NATIONAL SECURITY AND FOREIGN POLICY, a one graf public choice analysis:  “In a dangerous world, there is a clear set of policies that is required to protect the country, but only one party is honest about it.” Jim Geraghty says this by way of saying that Ross Douthat and Jonah Goldberg are too charitable toward the Democrats’ national security policy.  He’s right – but also way too charitable himself.  Why?

Assume that Democrats know that Republicans will generally support them when Democrats are in the White House and taking tough national security positions.  But the Democrats also send unmistakeable signals to the electorate that, if they are pushed out of power, they will undermine a Republican administration trying to do exactly the same, and taking exactly the same actions.  Their support is not reciprocal even when the action is the same.  Message to voters:

“Paradoxically, the more you value national security, the more you actually need to vote for Democrats, because we’re the ones who matter on the margin, not the Republicans.  We have the hold-up, not the Republicans.  The Republicans in principle might be tougher than us – but unless we are in office, we will hold up all or most or much of it, so their extra toughness doesn’t matter, because it will be less than ours. The Republicans would be tougher than us – but we’re actually the best you’re going to do, because if the Republicans take office, we’ll make sure they do less.  So thanks for your national-security vote – TeamObama, investing today in tomorrow’s Nash Equilibrium.”