Tuesday, March 15, 2022


Matt Lewis of the Daily Beast thinks that Trump guy is really in political hot water now....
In political campaigns, we are always fighting the last war.

Donald Trump’s election in 2016 was, in no insignificant part, a reaction to the disastrous 2003 invasion of Iraq and the subsequent years of quagmire.
Actually, that was a very insignificant aspect of Trump's appeal, much less important than the immigrant-bashing, the Hillary-bashing, and the general assholism. (The base found it thrilling to watch him get away with obnoxious, over-the-line comments nearly every day.)
... That was in 2016. But that is no longer the world we live in.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there’s no going back to “America First” as it was. That’s not to say the public is clamoring for a war with Russia. But the Trumpian worldview that embraced Vladimir Putin and threatened to abandon NATO has, for now, been repudiated.
The problem with what Lewis is writing here is that he imagines that ordinary voters think in political science categories. They don't. Average Americans don't divide themselves into internationalist and isolationist camps. Trump voters thrill to the slogan "America First," and cheer when Trump calls the Bushes idiots -- but they also cheered in 2015 when he said of ISIS,
I would bomb the shit out of them.

I would just bomb those suckers, and that's right, I'd blow up the pipes, I'd blow up the refineries, I'd blow up ever single inch, there would be nothing left.

And you know what, you'll get Exxon to come in there, and in two months, you ever see these guys? How good they are, the great oil companies, they'll rebuild it brand new... And I'll take the oil.
They cheered this:

When they hear "America First," they don't hear it as "Let's not get involved in international conflicts." Maybe they hear it as "Who cares about the international order?," but they don't hear it as "Let's withdraw from the world and tend our own garden." They still like the idea of America doling out a nice ass-kicking.

Lewis writes:
Of course, public opinion matters most to people facing competitive races on upcoming ballots. The most loathsome Republicans—Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar (who spoke at the white nationalist America First Political Action Conference, where the audience cheered Putin) and Madison Cawthorn (who called Zelensky a “thug”)—are ensconced in safe districts, and their national infamy hasn’t hurt them at the local level to date.
They're all in districts that are considered safe Republican, but if what they've said about the war is so off-putting, then they should be in deep trouble in their primaries. (Greene, Gosar, and Cawthorn are all facing primary challengers.)

Yet there's no evidence that they've been damaged by their statements about the war. Greene, shrewdly, straddles the issue in a Trumpian way, saying that Trump gave us "peace through strength" when he was president. That's bellicose and anti-war at the same time, and that sits just fine with most Republican voters.

And then there's this take on the war, from the St. Louis Gun Guy, who's now running for a seat in the U.S. Senate:

This is the take on the war that really unites rank-and-file GOP voters. Sure, it's compatible with anti-Putin and pro-Ukraine feelings, but it's primarily America First-ish in its focus on our own territory. Any GOP politician who says this will be roundly cheered. So when Lewis writes that "Trump can’t run again in 2024 by playing his greatest hits," he's wrong about this hit: The fans will be calling for Trump to play "Build the Wall" no matter what's going on in the world. And by 2024, GOP voters will be isolationist or interventionist depending on one thing and one thing only: which stance will be regarded as more lib-owning. Because that's what really matters to GOP voters.

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