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Opinion Just wait for the Democrats’ ads — starring Republicans

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Capitol Hill on Sept. 24. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)
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I can hardly wait for the 2020 presidential campaign ads for the eventual Democratic nominee. It can include such magnificent indictments of President Trump as this, concerning his Syria disaster:

For years, the United States and our Syrian Kurdish partners have fought heroically to corner ISIS and destroy its physical caliphate. Abandoning this fight now and withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria would re-create the very conditions that we have worked hard to destroy and invite the resurgence of ISIS. And such a withdrawal would also create a broader power vacuum in Syria that will be exploited by Iran and Russia, a catastrophic outcome for the United States’ strategic interests.
“Withdrawing American leadership from this pivotal region would not serve our nation’s short-, medium-, or long-term interests. It would only make a troubling situation much worse, not only for regional partners such as Israel and Jordan but for the United States as well.

That was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Testaments to Trump’s empowerment of the Islamic State and Iran abound. “ISIS killers will now escape & boost chances of a resurgence [. . .] One of few moderate pro-U.S. groups in region now allied with Assad and Putin [. . .] Syria’s future now controlled by Russia and Iran. A significant blow to Israel’s security and boost to Iran’s goal of regional dominance.” That was from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

Indeed, whether it is betraying allies in the Middle East or Europe; siding with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment of the Kremlin’s culpability in interference with the 2016 election; trying to extort our allies to keep troops forward positioned in their countries; or ludicrously defending North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, who claimed ignorance of the murder of Otto Warmbier, there will be a whole bunch of very usable quotes from Republican hawks condemning Trump’s conduct.

Many of these devastating retorts come from Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.):

On extorting allies, she declared, "The notion that we are somehow now going to charge them cost plus 50 is really, it’s wrongheaded and it would be devastating to the security of our nation and to our allies.” And as for Trump’s siding with Putin at Helsinki, Cheney once declared, “I am deeply troubled by President Trump’s defense of Putin against the intelligence agencies of the U.S. [and] his suggestion of moral equivalence between the U.S. and Russia.” There are more where those came from. Lots more.

These and oodles of other expressions of disbelief and horror from Republicans about Trump’s conduct do raise the question as to how these Republicans could possibly support a president whose foreign policy is so dangerous. So, come to think of it, campaign ads featuring Republicans could pull double-duty — both in excoriating Trump and in raising real doubts about the sincerity and judgment of his Republican enablers.

Lots of the Republicans who condemned Trump will be on the ballot in 2020. McConnell is one of them, as is Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) who declared, “I thought the president made a big mistake by asking China to get involved in investigating a political opponent.” Should she not support impeachment, voters will want to know how she can condone Trump’s behavior and how they should risk giving Trump four more years.

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Voting affirmatively to keep Trump in office after soliciting foreign help and committing an inexcusable blunder on Syria would seem to be a bit of a problem for Republican candidates for House and Senate — including McConnell, Collins, and Sens. Cory Gardner (Colo.), John Cornyn (Tex.), Thom Tillis (N.C.) and Martha McSally (Ariz.).

What would prevent this avalanche of confession (both of Trump’s unfitness as commander in chief and of Republicans’ spinelessness when confronted with an unfit commander in chief)? If Trump, say, were to leave office under duress, Republicans would then be freed from the task of seeing their own criticisms of a ruinous president played back to them. It would be so much easier, wouldn’t it, for the party’s fortunes — for their own reelection chances and for their place in history — if they could just figure out some way to dump him?


Trump has caused more lasting damage than the surreptitious actions of Nixon, but an impeachment inquiry would be futile, argues Post columnist George F. Will. (Video: The Washington Post, Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

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