Only such a presidential aspirant, whom different subcultures of the party respect, has a chance to win the next election. For as much as Republicans may furiously deny it, Obama continues to execute a credible foreign policy that, while rarely daring or innovative, is realist in the traditional sense, even as it has cautiously avoided military quagmires -- something the last Republican president, George W. Bush, did not do. Obama's attempt at a rapprochement with Iran fits well within American realist tradition and is popular among the public besides. Moreover, the presumed front-runner among the Democrats, Hillary Clinton, has already proved her realist bona fides as secretary of state, however cautious and lackluster her term at Foggy Bottom may have been.
Realism, remember, can itself be a fusion of tough-minded nationalism, respect for a mild isolationism and awareness of the attributes here and there of neoconservatism. For realism accepts the outside world as it is, not how idealists want it to be. But while accepting the imperfections of the world outside, realism also understands that America must occasionally -- rarely, that is -- intervene to both protect human life and to preserve the balance of power. That is enlightened realism. And unless the Republicans find a candidate who espouses it, their chances of regaining executive power will be further diminished.