A candidate with nothing to lose but a little more dignity.
Photo-Illustration: Intelligencer; Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Back in June, before presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy wore out his welcome with elite and rank-and-file Republicans, he came up with a gimmick designed to annoy his rivals to no end: a challenge to sign a pledge to pardon Donald Trump if he is indeed convicted of federal criminal charges and one of the other Republicans gets elected. For the most part, other candidates ignored him. Subsequently, he became a pest in two Republican candidate debates, and his air of being a not terribly well-informed know-it-all has clearly been grating on anyone within reach of his voice.
So now, when he’s poised to become an irrelevant factor (along with Chris Christie and Tim Scott) in a third Republican debate featuring the last two candidates with a remote chance of catching front-runner Donald Trump (Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley), Ramaswamy has come up with a new “pledge,” as Reuters reports:
According to Ramaswamy, his pledge, dubbed “No to neocons,” will consist of three broad policy positions that signatories must agree to: “avoiding World War Three is a vital national objective”; “war is never a preference, only a necessity”; and “the sole duty of U.S. policymakers is to U.S. citizens.”
For a guy posing as the next-generation politician who’s hip to TikTok and offers some cringeworthy rapping on the campaign trail, Ramaswamy is strangely interested in beating the dead horse of “neoconservatism,” a term that fell out of use at roughly the same time Dick Cheney left the vice-presidency. Beyond that, his “pledge” is pretty hilarious. Is anyone going to lead cheers for World War III? Tell voters they really dig war? Promise to subordinate American interests to those of godless foreigners? Surely in his days at Harvard and Yale, the tech tyro was exposed to such ideas as preventing global war by ending regional wars, seeking peace through strength, and promoting national interests through alliances and multinational organizations. Yet he is insisting on this transparent shout-out for MAGA yahooism in foreign policy and trying to force his rivals to share it.
To be clear, the third debate was already likely to be a rock fight, with candidates whose campaigns are circling the drain and candidates struggling to make second place in Iowa bashing each other as Donald Trump laughs from the sidelines. The last thing the event needs is an abrasive political novice and Trump mini-me chasing them around the stage with an “America First” pledge to persecute nonexistent neocons.