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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

October 11: Trump Alienates Evangelical Supporters With Syria Policy

There was a lot of attention given in the media to GOP heartburn about Trump’s abandonment of the Kurds in Syria. But there was another angle that I wrote up at New York:

No one should have been surprised by the fury that arose in congressional Republican circles over the president’s green light to his fellow authoritarian, Recep Erdogan, for a Turkish invasion of Syria. Most of them, after all, have never bought into Trump’s particular Jacksonian mix of militaristic bluster and non-interventionism, reflected in his alternating desires to get U.S. troops out of Syria or deploy them to kill everything that moves. Traditional Republicans, moreover, feel a strong sense of attachment to the Kurds, U.S. allies in the Iraq War (which Trump considers a disaster pursued by losers) and the fight against ISIS (which Trump considers his own personal triumph, not to be shared with foreigners). The most unexpected thing, indeed, is that Trump chose to infuriate Republicans just when he needs them most in the battle against impeachment and the 2020 election. This is not the sort of statement he needs right now from the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham:

“Graham, who has been one of President Trump’s strongest allies in the Senate, on Wednesday said Kurdish fighters in Syria had been ‘shamelessly abandoned by the Trump Administration’ in its sudden decision to pull U.S. troops from northern Syria, leaving America’s longtime allies in the fight against the Islamic State group exposed to an attack by Turkey.

“’I hope he’s right — I don’t think so. I know that every military person has told him don’t do this,’ Graham said in an appearance on ‘Fox & Friends. “If he follows through with this, it’d be the biggest mistake of his presidency.”

But if old-school neoconservative hawkishness explains part of the bad reaction Trump got for his invitation to Erdogan, there’s a separate reason that leaders representing another important slice of the MAGA coalition. Conservative Evangelicals have rebelled — some even more angrily than Graham — including the ancient Christian Right warhorse, Pat Robertson, as the Washington Post reports:

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