Time to reassess
For the Republican party, the hour is drawing nigh to reassess their position in the Trump era. Slowly but surely the president is purging the party of moderates and reversing their policies, especially in regard to foreign policy.
Trump’s actions in regard to Syria have been evolving since 2017. He tried to withdraw troops at the outset of his administration. Instead, James “Mad Dog” Mattis halted his attempt to change policy, and Trump ordered an airstrike. In 2018, he tried to withdraw troops from Syria and ran into resistance. Then Dan Coats left his office in national intelligence. In the end, Trump got his way, and the American footprint in Syria was reduced.
Having patiently dealt with the remains of the George W. Bush Republicans in his administration, Trump struck in the summer of 2019. He relieved John Bolton as director of the National Security Agency and backed away from his hawkish views. Distrusting the praetorian guard surrounding him in his own administration, Trump gradually elbowed them out. With the phone call with the Turkish head of state, he clearly separated himself from the masters of war. Then he decided to pull troops from Syria.
The same with Ukraine, where he relieved the ambassador and Kurt Volker, our man in Kiev. Now his henchmen such as Rudy Giuliani complicated matters by artlessly trying to turn a sound decision to urge Volodymyr Zelensky to directly deal with Vladimir Putin into an attempt to hurt Joe Biden.
But, Trump succeeded in clearing out in-house GOP critics and conducting a foreign policy more in line with his original intentions. This has been a pattern but in the end Trump gets what he wants.
The likes of Lindsey Graham trying to manipulate Trump have failed utterly. But, it is a warning to those friends/critics that he is not going to be contained. Instead of speaking out, the Turkish affair being the exception, the so-called friends of the president have been ham-handed in resisting polices at the outset, forcing Trump as in the original case in 2017 with Syria to backtrack. But, when the time comes to renew his push to de-escalate in Syria and Ukraine, he continued on his course.
Indeed, even those Tea Partiers who somehow think that they have Trump in their hip pocket, should take care to be less cocky. Trump is neither a Tea Partier, a Republican regular nor a Conservative, he is simply one of a kind. Given their weakness, it is amazing that he takes any of them seriously. When he started in 2017, they confidently thought that Republicans in Congress were sufficient to control Trump. But in 2018, Republicans lost the House of Representatives. Adding to the problem are the 18 or so Republican lawmakers who have opted not to run for re-election in 2020.
Trump has effectively ended the Tea Party revolution of 2010. The obsession with the budget is gone and the neo-Conservatives have been put on the shelf. Bolton was their last hope but he joined Mattis and H.R. McMasters in being shown the door. Maybe Mike Pompeo will be next. Trump is a different kind of politician, and it’s high time Republicans recognize that fact.