Updated at 4:25 p.m.
President Trump’s decision to launch airstrikes against the Syrian regime in response to a chemical weapons attack has made him abnormally popular with the elites who inhabit the swamp he campaigned against. MSNBC’s Brian Williams hailed video of the strikes as “beautiful,” and CNN’s Fareed Zakaria identified this as the moment when Trump became president.
But it has been a bitterly disappointing turn of events for some of his most ardent supporters in the white nationalist alt-right movement and in adjacent political circles, who have supported Trump from the beginning of his campaign and who were enthralled by his promises to not get involved in Middle East conflicts.
The strikes, and the about-face they represent in terms of Trump’s posture towards the Middle East, reveal a White House showing less-than-full devotion to the movement that formed the ideological backbone for Trump’s election. White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, for example, the former Breitbart chairman who represents ideological Trumpism within the White House, is locked in a battle for influence with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, a more pragmatic operator who appears to be nudging Trump in a more mainstream direction—a battle which Kushner, as a family member, is better-positioned to win.