Florida's Top Democrats Line Up to Support Trump's Syrian Airstrike

Florida's Top Democrats Line Up to Support Trump's Syrian Airstrike
Senate Democrats / Inter-American Dialogue via Flickr Creative Commons
If you were to take the words of Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Ted Deutch, and pretty much any other Democratic congressperson in the Sunshine State at face value, Donald Trump is an unstable, proto-fascist warmonger, uncontrollable narcissist, and serial sexual predator who should never have been able to come near any sort of missile-launching device.

In the past 24 hours, however, those same lawmakers appear to have jettisoned that argument and are now totally cool with Trump firing missiles into the Middle East at a moment's notice. In fact, Florida's top Democrats are now heaping praise upon the president after he launched a bucketful of cruise missiles at Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's forces last night.

The strike, which by any measure appeared to have been barely planned and hastily thought-out, has the potential to further destabilize the Middle East and escalate tensions between multiple countries vying for power in the area. The Russian government, which backs Assad, has already announced it will "help Syria strengthen its air defenses" after Trump's strike, according to the Associated Press.

The state's top Democrats have tried to fashion themselves as a "resistance" to the Trump administration, yet they have nothing but praise for the bombing campaign. It's unquestionable that Assad's attacks on his own people are barbaric and heinous, but plenty of fair questions remain as to whether toppling his regime or shelling Syria are good ideas. Would ISIS fill a vacuum created in Assad's absence? Has any Middle Eastern nation been better off after U.S. intervention? Is a strike worth angering the Russians? Was Trump's strike yesterday even legal or constitutional?

Florida's Democratic leaders don't seem to be too curious about those kinds of questions.

"I support the admin’s strike on the air base that launched the chemical attack," Nelson, who is running for reelection against likely candidate Gov. Rick Scott, tweeted last night, less than an hour after Trump announced the strike from Mar-a-Lago. "I hope this teaches Assad not to use chemical weapons again."
Wasserman Schultz barely gave the missile strike a second thought before announcing her praise in a statement issued at 7 a.m. today.

"Last night's targeted missile attack on al-Sharyat air base was a measured and appropriate response to the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons against innocent men, women, and children," she wrote.
Astoundingly, Wasserman Schultz said she was aware that Trump — who has shifted his Syria opinions at lightning speed this week — has acted erratically and without reason toward Assad. But she still said she's cool with a person she formerly called an unhinged maniac launching missiles at a foreign country. She admitted Trump seems to have no actual plan in place, but claims that the attack is still righteous.

"Although the missile attach was warranted, I have serious concerns about the Trump administration's irresponsible statements earlier in the week, which may have emboldened Assad, and an overall erratic policy that indicates there is no longer-term strategy in place here," she said.

(It perhaps helped Wasserman Schultz that Trump's strike is almost exactly how Hillary Clinton, Wasserman Schultz's close friend, proposed the U.S. handle Assad.)

In May 2016, Wasserman Schultz warned that Trump might use nuclear weapons to attack another country. In July 2016, she shared a Washington Post editorial calling Trump "a unique threat to American democracy." In January, Nelson stood next to Wasserman Schultz at the Women's March in Washington, D.C. He wore a pink scarf and asked to be an "honorary sister" protesting Trump.
Perhaps the most nonsensical attempt at justifying Trump's strikes from a South Florida politician today came from Broward and Palm Beach County Rep. Ted Deutch.

"Assad's disregard for int'l law & innocent lives demanded measured response," Deutch tweeted. In a longer, written statement, he wrote that if Trump wants to strike Assad again, he should get congressional approval. But this time was fine, even if it bypassed Congress and likely broke the law. Deutch, it so happens, sits on the Middle East and North Africa Congressional Subcommittee.
Across the board, the Democratic response to Trump's strike last night, which killed six people, has been a lockstep, hoorah chant of approval. Overnight, people like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, Trump's biggest opposition, began singing the president's praises.

Trump seems to have no real plan in place to deal with Assad — and it's not a huge stretch to guess he might have fired off missiles simply to help his approval rating or to look nebulously "tough." Florida's Democrats are not only tolerating that sort of bullshit, but also teaching Trump that launching military hits is the fastest way to get them on his side.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.