If you thought Republicans were despicable before Vladimir Putin unilaterally sent marauding Russian troops into Ukraine in a violent political land grab, GOP politicians are now giving you even more fuel for your fire of derision.
The response today from many prominent Republican leaders could lead you to believe that either they are directly on the Kremlin payroll, that they are even more ignorant than we ever imagined possible, or that they have simply made a political calculation that they will be more likely to be re-elected by parroting Donald Trump’s autocrat-worshiping Russophilia.
Trump — who arguably owes his election to Russia’s electoral interference in the 2016 election — called Putin’s moves “genius” and labeled the out-of-control Russian president “very savvy” even before the first tanks rolled across the border in violation of international agreements negotiated in the Minsk Protocol.
Trump’s former Secretary of State — and likely 2024 Republican presidential hopeful — Mike Pompeo at least acknowledged that Putin was doing something undesirable by invading Russia’s neighbor, accusing the macho autocrat of “trying to bring back the Soviet Union” in an op-ed he wrote for Fox News, the most reliable source of Russian propaganda masquerading as a U.S. news media outlet.
Unfortunately, Pompeo spends the bulk of his article blaming President Biden for allowing the current situation in Ukraine to develop, ignoring the role that the kowtowing to Putin that he and Trump performed throughout that demonic administration played in emboldening the Russian dictator.
That was also the approach taken by GOP Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) who was roundly condemned on social media for her partisanship after posting on Twitter this gem that laid the blame on Putin’s actions at Biden’s feet.
You own this. You supported Trump as he backstabbed Ukraine. You have undermined our democracy. Your leader praised Putin yesterday. You've stood with Putin. We see you and aren't forgetting.
— Fred Wellman (@FPWellman) February 24, 2022
Equally focused on condemning President Biden instead of the perpetrator of the latest set of war crimes was the de facto leader of the Republican Party’s lunatic fringe, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).
1. It’s no surprise to anyone that Putin invaded Ukraine.
Biden gave him the green light by saying the US is not going to war with Russia and will remain united with and only defend its NATO member nation allies. Ukraine was not allowed to join NATO.
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (@RepMTG) February 24, 2022
Even noted Russia hawks, like Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), focused their ire as much on President Biden as on Putin.
The Biden Administration continues to misread the moment.
We should not be seeking permission from allies to go after Putin and his cronies.
We should move ahead forcefully against Putin, a war criminal, and demand our allies join us! https://t.co/1HWoeLiS9Z
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) February 24, 2022
Not all of the ignorance in the Republican party was so clearly politically motivated.
Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) indicated that he may have fallen asleep sometime before the dissolution of the Soviet Union thirty years ago and just recently awakened when he attributed the motivation for the invasion to Putin’s need to seize Ukrainian farmland to grow food for his hungry people under a Russian economic system that the former Auburn University football coach still believed was run by Communists.
“He can’t feed his people,” Senator Tuberville claimed to local Alabama news site 1819 News. “It’s a communist country, so he can’t feed his people, so they need more farmland.”
Russia ceased being Communist decades ago, certainly growing into one of the most egregious examples of the dangers of crony capitalism unfolding since the days of Boris Yeltsin in the mid-90s.
It’s a sad statement on the level of divisiveness in this country that so many Republicans can’t even rally round the flag and exhibit a semblance of unity in the face of dangerous aggression from one of our longest-standing adversaries.
One gets the feeling that if Russia invaded the United States, one would have to constantly check the loyalties of the surrounding citizens to figure out whether they were more aligned with Putin than with one’s fellow Americans.
One can understand why Donald Trump might want to continue to curry favor with his bosom buddy in the Kremlin. He may still need a country without an extradition treaty with the U.S. when his legal woes finally blow up, and, of course, there is still no Trump Tower in Moscow or St. Petersburg.
As for the rest of the GOP toadies blaming Biden for Putin’s crimes in Ukraine, they are simply sniveling opportunists basking in Donald Trump’s inexplicably continued popularity with the poorly educated, hoping to pick up a few political crumbs in the process.
They should be condemned with the same vehemence as the would-be-conquerer of Ukraine.
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Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.