by Curt Mills
Friday, 20
August 2021
Idea
17:00

Joe Biden is stealing Republican thunder

Trump campaigned on ending forever wars — Biden actually ended one
by Curt Mills
More Trumpian than Trump? (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Donald Trump completed his capture of the Republican Party on May 27, 2016 in Anaheim, California — by insulting “a guy, nobody ever heard of this guy.” “I shouldn’t even do this because I build up his name,” Trump told the Golden State crowd. “His name is Bill Kristol.”

“I don’t understand,” the future president said of the Weekly Standard founder. “Why do you keep putting the guy on television who’s been proven to be wrong for so many years? First of all, he wants the war in Iraq. He wants Iraq. All the guy wants to do is kill people.”

Today, Donald Trump agrees with Bill Kristol.  

“Biden’s decision to withdraw by an arbitrary date (originally September 11) was Trump-like,” Kristol said this week on the events unfolding in Afghanistan. “The feckless and incompetent execution was Trump-like. Blaming the Afghans is Trump-like.”

But Trump is on his side. Apparently channelling his inner neoconservative, the former President said: “Our country has never been so humiliated.” Ending the U.S.’s longest war, he says, “blows Vietnam away.” Setting aside the fact that his administration initiated this process with the Taliban, it is worth noting what Axios reporter Jonathan Swan once said of Donald Trump: he’s “a day to day player.” And what Trump says today still matters — which could be a problem for the former president himself and, more importantly, for the movement he ushered into politics. 

Bernie Sanders-to-Donald Trump crossover voters were real (they have their own Wikipedia, after all), and during his rise to power, Trump very much drew on the paleoconservative movement that dissented from the Republican Party of George W. Bush. Trump succeeded in bringing together a coalition of these two disparate groups based upon his isolationist foreign policy stances. Before his own meteoric comeback, Tucker Carlson wrote in January 2016 that “Donald Trump is shocking, vulgar and right.” Today, Trump no longer shocks anyone, isn’t in the right, and accordingly, appears to only retain a flailing vulgarity.   

A Fox News anchor said on Thursday night that the “big picture was not whether we got out of the war. The big picture is how we got out of the war.” Actually, by any reasonable definition of scope, the bigger picture is clearly whether we got out of the longest war in the history of the country — and we did, under the leadership of Democratic President Joe Biden. 

You might not hear a peep about this reality out of Congressional Republicans on the Hill. Some are relieved and actively rooting for a neocon recrudescence. Others are harping on about refugees — probably also not the greatest look. The fact is, in securing an infrastructure bill and an exit from Kabul, Joe Biden is stealing Republican thunder. Even the press hates the White House again. 

But now only 31% of Republicans agree with the exit from Afghanistan, according to a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll. Imagine if Trump had not played the partisan. Why should he? He was famously never much of a Republican to begin with.

Now it’s all he is. 

Join the discussion


  • The righteous flailing around beggars belief – the right is blaming Biden, the left is blaming Johnson and Raab. As ever, everyone will look at this as they do everything: through their own lens. As for me I think the outcome would have been the same, regardless of the timetable or who was occupying the White House.
    This is being harnessed to try and make politically partisan points but I am struggling to recall support coming from the left for the presence in Afghanistan…now they care about nation building and Afghan women and girls?

  • Thousands of military are on the ground and tens of thousands of civilians are stranded throughout the country. “Biden actually ended one,” eh? The war is over? I suppose it depends on what your definition of is is.

  • Well isn’t that great! Wasn’t that much needed mineral wealth worth staying for? While the West, relentlessly egged on by its moralising intellectual/creative class frets about how compassionate to be, the East have their eye on the main chance, as always.
    Let the refugees drag down the charity obsessed West while China buys/grabs the minerals it needs to feed its industrial empire.
    Meanwhile, the scripture obsessed Taliban will squander their wealth creating yet another failed islamic state riven by internecine conflicts because in atavistic patriarchal communities the struggle for dominance trumps all else.

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