If the Republicans on the Milwaukee debate stage seemed incoherent to you, it is because the Republicans on the Milwaukee debate stage were incoherent. Incoherence is one of the many unhappy side effects a party experiences when it abandons its values.
Take national security. For more than a half a century, the Republicans were the party associated with a more robust—and more serious—program for national security. Now, they are and they aren’t, and they mostly aren’t. Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor and miraculously disappearing Trump challenger, has complained that the Biden administration is too eager to help Ukraine and our European allies repel the Russian invasion that launched the most significant war in Europe since World War II. We have critical defense interests, DeSantis told Tucker Carlson in March, and “becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them.” He protests that the U.S. government is offering Kyiv a “blank check.”