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Why Trump's sudden shift on Afghan refugees matters

On Monday, Trump said the right thing about Afghan refugees. When members of his base disagreed, he followed their lead, rather than the other way around.

Though many on the right have been vocal in their opposition to welcoming Afghan refugees, Donald Trump wasn't among them. In fact, it was just two days ago when the former president issued a written statement stressing the importance of "evacuating civilians and others who have been good to our Country."

The Republican added that these Afghans "should be allowed to seek refuge," and U.S. forces should remain in Afghanistan until these vulnerable people were rescued.

That was Monday. This is today.

In Trump's latest statement, he's now angered at the sight of 600+ Afghan refugees in the C-17. "This plane should have been full of Americans. America First!" he says.

Or put another way, over the course of about 48 hours, Trump went from urging the U.S. military to help rescue Afghan civilians to complaining about the U.S. military helping rescue Afghan civilians.

It's tempting to ignore such palaver, though in this case, it's probably notable for a couple of reasons.

First, Trump's nonsense frequently becomes Republican orthodoxy, reflecting the extent to which much of the GOP is a cult of personality. When the former president seemed to endorse protections for Afghan refugees "who have been good to our country," the hope was that this would help influence Republican policymakers.

Now that he's apparently changed his mind, much of the GOP will likely follow.

Second, it's occasionally of interest to see Trump follow the lead of his base, instead of the other way around. On Monday, the former president said the right thing about those who "should be allowed to seek refuge," perhaps because he'd seen coverage of Afghan civilians on television.

But after learning that his allies and supporters took the opposite position, Trump conveniently decided that he no longer agrees with himself, either.