It got a little lost in the other recent atrocities, but the complete flip of Republican support for bombing Syria is pretty interesting, and about as pure an example of motivated reasoning as you can find. When a black liberal wanted to bomb, few Republicans supported it. When Trump did it, almost all supported him. Interestingly the liberal support remained roughly the same, a little over 1/3. Just another example of Both Sides Do It! Some thoughts:

  1. It’s really not wise for so many Democratic elites to rush to applaud Trump over the bombings. I don’t see any reason to think that Trump’s foreign policy is going to be received any differently from his domestic policy, and being associated with a person most Democrats find to be only slightly preferable to cancer is, um, a questionable move. The only real inference to be drawn is that these Democrats love war more than they hate Trump. And while it’s true that few people actually wrecked their careers over supporting Bush’s war (John Kerry’s never going to serve in office again but Anne-Marie Slaughter potentially could), I suspect the consequences of it are going to be much more long-term. Maybe not even that long, as the Boomers get replaced by kids for whom “American global leadership” is a joke.
  2. Republican views on all but maybe a handful of issues are extremely malleable and depend almost entirely on who’s making the argument. Obama’s folly was in taking seriously views that Republicans themselves didn’t even take seriously. You’d think that liberals wouldn’t make the same mistake again but alleged harsh Obama critic Bernie Sanders is doing a version of the same thing, creating fantasy left-wingers of the WWC where Obama created fantasy rationalists of them.
  3. Once again, while I’m not generally a fan of having billionaires use their money to influence the political process, if just one of them would just scare up some loose change and found a noninterventionist Democratic foreign policy think tank, it really could change things significantly. One reason why we keep ending up with Michael O’Hanlons and Samantha Powers and similarly dogmatic hawks in our Democratic administrations is because think tanks hire those sorts of Democrats when there’s no Democratic administration. Setting up an institution that covers the views of the other 63% of the party would only cost a couple million but could have a significant impact on the politics of foreign policy: developing talent and policy, influencing the media, etc. Not many places where some dark money could be used for good but this is definitely one.
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