In contrast to Bryan Caplan's advice to the GOP to make itself more popular by bending over backward to mollify the sensitivities of newcomers, the state of Israel, and Israel hobbyists in the U.S., follow a strategy of constant strident self-assertion.
As the Hagel debate showed, the essential problem for the GOP is this: You know how T. Boone Pickens has spent a couple of hundred million dollars building his alma mater, Oklahoma State, into a college football powerhouse? Does T. Boone Pickens want to negotiate peace on the football field, to sit down with Oklahoma's backers and call the whole game off? Of course not. What would be the fun of that? He wants to WIN.
Well, a lot of the big money behind the GOP (and behind the Democrats, too — e.g., Hillary's main money man Haim Saban) feels toward Israel the way Pickens feels toward the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Pickens doesn't want peace on the football field, he wants victory. Similarly, much of the big money and the big media don't really want peace in the Middle East. They want their favorite country to win, to crush its foes, or, at minimum, for the game of nations to go on and on to give them something to talk about. It's their hobby. It's a perfectly natural male rooting urge.
But, here's the GOP's problem: You can't mention this. You can joke about Pickens's obsession with OK St. winning, but you can't joke about, say, Sheldon Adelson's obsession with his wife's native country crushing their foes.
Poor Chuck Hagel vaguely alluded skeptically to this massive phenomenon a couple of times over the last couple of decades, and got roasted alive for it to, as Voltaire would say, "encourage the others."
The problem is that what goes unsaid, eventually goes unthought, enstupefying the Party.
So, the first thing Republicans need is the freedom to joke about the neocons' infatuation with Israel.
Is that too much to ask?
At present, yes.