Welp, I had something else planned for this morning, about the speed of which Trump’s administration is flaming out, but that’s done now. We’ve bombed Syria. Something that anyone who’s been listening to Trump since 2013 would have said was impossible. So now we need to look at that instead.
I predicted, months ago, that there would be a terrorist attack or an assassination attempt. I’m calling this a half-win. It wasn’t a terrorist attack, but it was an extreme attack on civilians, where the culprit never took credit/blame for what happened. Everyone blames President Assad, though he denies it entirely, saying something about a routine attack on a rebel factory, that released the cloud that poisoned all those people. Not a strong story, if you ask me, but he’s sticking to it. A few commentators claim that there is more to this attack than meets the eye, but their interpretation doesn’t really matter. What matters is the story everyone believes. That story is that Assad gassed his own people, and the US president won’t take that lying down.
This is a familiar story. We’ve heard it at least twice before in my lifetime. Both times it led to war, a quagmire, then a world less stable than the one before it. It also led to a president getting re elected. Is that what happens now? Maybe, but this is happening so quickly into Trump’s term that there is lots of time for things to develop differently. In the immediate aftermath what we’re seeing is Trump turn into a more typical president. His remarks announcing the bombing resembled his speech before Congress. He was somber, and, dare I say, presidential. Many of his detractors in the establishment republican group who weren’t fans before suddenly are getting behind him. His more extreme supporters on the alt right are coming out against him. Hillary Clinton, a woman who is the political establishment personified, seems to support this attack. And Russia, an entity that seemed to like Trump, is now condemning him.
Let’s not forget that Trumpcare’s failure, the investigation into his Russian ties, his golf outings, Ivanka’s desire to stay in New York, Bannon’s demotion, Nune’s “temporary” recusal, and all the other Trump stories have been bumped from the headlines. They’re still there, but we’re not paying attention to them.
Taken together, it’s hard to see how this is anything other than good for Trump. Not so great for people in Syria, of course, and longer term this may lead to war with Russia and/or China. But he finally has a second victory to point to for his first 100 days, the first being his speech to Congress. I don’t count his executive orders, as they can be quickly undone by anyone who replaces him. They are temporary stopgaps in trying to get his agenda done, not permanent victories. But the Syrian bombing will up his approval numbers. It will make passing laws he wants passed easier. It gives him some breathing room until his next self-inflicted issue.
The most interesting thing to me, though, is the speed at which Trump is moving. Now, more than ever, it’s worth discussing that. But that’s going to have to wait for another day.