Over at TNR‘s The Plank, Noam Scheiber cites some numbers that may explain Sen. Sam Brownback’s opposition to the Bush troops proposal: “…the move turns out to be pretty welcome among Brownback’s desired base of social conservatives. While 52 percent of Republicans support the surge according to a just-released AP/Ipsos poll, some 60 percent of white evangelicals oppose it, as do 56 percent of self-described conservatives.”
I’d want to look closely at the internals of a poll that showed a majority of self-described conservatives breaking one way while self-described Republicans broke the opposite way, but it’s an interesting theory. It makes more sense than one commenter’s contention that this was an example of Midwestern conservative Christian isolationism. Brownback has been second only to Rick Santorum as an example of Joseph Bottum-style “New Fusionism” linking social conservatism and a moralistic foreign policy. Of course, at this point, what does any longshot Republican presidential candidate have to gain by being another GOP politician who supports whatever Bush says on Iraq?
I’m not, by the way, dismissing the possiblity that Brownback actually sincerely believes his surge position. But it never hurts look for a presidential contender’s political motivations. (Hat tip: Ross Douthat.)