Conservatives who have opposed Donald Trump most loudly have framed their opposition to him as one of the great moral stands of our time. To be against him is to be on the side of decency, morality, and the future. To join with him is the abyss. How convenient for them that their lives will be defined by their refusal to cast a ballot, not their vociferous support of the worst foreign policy disaster since the Vietnam War.
There is no evidence that the top minds among elected Republicans have dedicated even a passing thought to the trust they’ve lost on foreign policy. Even at the beginning of the campaign, it was astonishing to watch a seasoned governor from America’s prominent political family evince no preparation at all for questions about the Iraq War, his brother’s mean governing legacy to the world. Jeb Bush even seemed unaware that his brother had voiced regrets for the war.
And because there is no thought, the political instincts of the Republican Party are completely unmodified from the 1970s. The GOP’s habit is to kick the Democrats for being feckless doves. But this habit only makes the party seem ever-more disconnected from reality. Consider the endlessly repeated Republican talking point that the Syrian civil war is a disaster because President Obama failed to enforce his “red line.” The truth is that it was Republicans who, when they had the chance to endorse harsh measures against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, backed away in deference to overwhelmingly dovish public opinion.