https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/jd-vance-and-don-jr-initiate-the-gops-2022-purge-of-the-neocons

Until the end of April, J.D. Vance‘s storied career as a self-made Middle-American memoirist, conservative firebrand, and venture capitalist risked sputtering out as a third-place also-ran in Ohio‘s Republican Senate primary. All of that changed with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a single debate, and the singular resolve of Vance, and also that of former President Donald Trump and his son, to stand against dragging America into yet another war and neocons like Josh Mandel.

The Cook Political Report called Tuesday night’s primary for Vance a little more than an hour after polls closed, a staggering feat for a race Vance never led in the polls prior to a fortnight ago. The former president’s endorsement came late enough that it risked missing out on early voters, and 45 seemed personally uninterested enough in the race that he accidentally referred to Vance as “J.D. Mandel.”

But Don Jr., the Trump with the most careful finger to the pulse of the GOP heartland, was paying attention. From February, Vance was willing to take ample public pushback for refusing to peddle the same hysteria about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, never siding with President Vladimir Putin, as his critics liked to insinuate, but instead redirecting rage to our own border insecurity. The real point of inflection came in March when Mandel, letting the MAGA mask slide for a second, endorsed a European-led no-fly zone over Ukraine, and Vance held firm.

“Regardless of whether you get into the weeds of what’s going on in Ukraine or what’s going on in Russia, it is not in our vital national security interest,” Vance said during the debate. “I think it’s disgusting that for four years, Donald Trump could not get $4 billion out of the Republican Congress to build a wall at the southern border — and meanwhile, Joe Biden got $14 billion in a week to send to Ukraine.”

Apparently, Don Jr. was listening. According to the Rolling Stone, the former first son and Tucker Carlson, one of Vance’s few longtime backers, specifically cited Vance’s opposition to a no-fly zone, which would be tantamount to America entering a hot war against a nuclear power, when personally lobbying the former president.

So what if Vance had said mean things about the elder Trump? Trump has said mean things about everyone, and it’s never stopped him from forging an alliance of convenience with them later on. As emissaries of the so-called New Right, Don Jr. and Tucker know Vance understands what time it is in the conservative movement. The social issues of the day include championing taxpayers and parents to reclaim schools from intersectional terrorists and teachers unions, not a gay marriage debate from the last century.

And if the No. 1 national issue for Republicans is fixing the Brandon economy, the No. 1 intraparty issue is purging what remains of the neocons. Donald Trump spent four years ousting the GOP’s warmongers into the greenrooms of CNN and MSNBC and reforming the party into one of foreign policy realism, but those gains mean nothing if a Bill Kristol acolyte in favor of starting World War III becomes the Republican senator from Ohio of all places.

Critics may mock the vicissitudes of Vance’s manner and alliances, but on the issues, he held rock steady when it mattered. In a city where the Ukrainian flags outnumber American flags, Vance stood against the Beltway lust of bombing for peace, and the Trump son made sure the party patriarch came through for his legacy when it mattered.

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