Arguments for and against American support for Ukraine against Russia’s invasion continues to be in the news, but Trumpist Republicans are expressing support for Vladimir Putin over Volodymyr Zelenskyy for one reason: Donald Trump says they should.
In a Newsmax interview earlier this week with Trumpist Eric Bolling, Trumpist Matt Gaetz openly sided with Putin concerning the question of having Ukraine join NATO when he said it would be better to add Russia to the organization (via Newsweek.com):
“If we had to pick Russia or Ukraine for NATO, one could reasonably make the argument that Russia probably provides more benefit long term,” the Florida Republican said on Newsmax’s Eric Bolling the Balance on Tuesday.
“Why would you pick Ukraine? Why not extend NATO to Russia and make it an anti-China alliance?” he asked on Newsmax. “Are we really thinking that we’re more afraid of the broke-down tanks from Russia than the fact that China is building a secret military base on the island of Cuba, 90 miles away from the United States?”
Of course, China has little to do with Gaetz’s position and everything to do with following the marching orders of the man he recently labeled the “strongest 2024 candidate.”
Ever since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, siding with Donald Trump and his “friend” Vladimir Putin has become a measuring stick of loyalty to Trump and his nationalist takeover of the Republican Party.
Nationalist cheerleaders of Trump’s brand of conservatism — Josh Hawley, Tucker Carlson, along with other Trumpists and “conservatives” — were first in line to slam the Western response to Russia’s invasion with Donald Trump leading the way.
Following the invasion, Trump called Putin a “genius” for his handling of Ukraine — which is saying something coming from the guy who declared himself to be “a very stable genius” — and for good measure, he repeated his claim that the 2020 election was stolen and that if he had remained president, Putin would never have attempted the invasion in the first place (via TheHill.com):
“I went in yesterday, and there was a television screen, and I said, ‘This is genius,'” he said. “Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine — of Ukraine — Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful.”
“I said, ‘How smart is that?’ He’s going to go in and be a peacekeeper,” added Trump, who regularly praised and sought close ties with Putin during his time in office. “That’s the strongest peace force. We could use that on our southern border. That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen. There were more army tanks than I’ve ever seen. They’re going to keep peace, all right.” (Emphasis mine)
Like any cult leader, Trump depends on an army of Kool-Aid-drinking “conservative” followers who will parrot his nationalist gospel.
Right-wing commentator Candace Owens blasted the U.S. response in a series of tweets, saying Americans should read a transcript of Putin’s address to the UN Security Council “to know what’s *actually* going on,” and she added that potential NATO membership for Ukraine serves as a threat to Russia and [that] means “WE are at fault.”
Following the invasion, nationalist Tucker Carlson urged Americans to ask themselves, “Why do I hate Putin?” He later wondered why it would be “disloyal” for “conservative” Americans to side with Russia over Ukraine.
Tucker: It may be worth asking yourself… why do I hate Putin.. Has Putin ever called me a racist? Has he threatened to get me fired for disagreeing with him? pic.twitter.com/0jlXfS0PYy
— Acyn (@Acyn) February 23, 2022
In response to the invasion, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) — his political fortunes are tied to Trumpism and nationalism — sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticizing U.S. treatment of Russia and stating his opposition of NATO membership for Ukraine.
The 2022 invasion wasn’t the first time Trump and his nationalist buddies in the Republican Party picked Russia over Ukraine.
In late 2019, Trump was impeached for withholding nearly $400 million in congressionally approved military for Ukraine in order to pressure Zelenskyy into launching an inquiry into his 2020 Democrat rival Joe Biden and Biden’s son.
In a lame attempt to change the narrative, Donald Trump and the Republican Party repeated an unfounded claim that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 elections. This accusation become the standard talking point for defenders of Trump, but it also provided evidence of the disturbing trend within the Republican Party to embrace Russian propaganda for political gain and party preservation.
According to a U.S. Intelligence report, accusations of Ukraine’s 2016 election interference were part of a Russian propaganda campaign designed to take the heat off their own election interference. And with Republicans desperate to avoid going the way of the dodos, they became willing participants in spreading Putin’s big lie.
Historically, GOP has been an acronym for Grand Old Party, and as visitors to my website know, it also stands for Gutless On Principles.
However, Washington Post columnist Max Boot came up with a much more frightening and dangerous acronym to describe the Republican Party’s devolution from conservatism to nationalism: “Gang of Putin.”
In his December 2019 column for RawStory.com, Boot explained:
“Of all the changes that have occurred in our politics since the rise of Donald Trump, the most gut-wrenching for me personally is to see the Republican Party transformed into the Kremlin’s ‘useful idiots.’ As a young refugee from the Soviet Union growing up in Southern California in the 1980s, I was attracted to the GOP because it was the party of moral clarity — the party willing to stand up to the ‘evil empire.’ How far we have come — in the wrong direction.” (Emphasis mine)
As president, Trump routinely praised Putin. “We have a Republican president who, while reluctantly acceding to sanctions against Russia, incessantly praises its dictator, Vladimir Putin — ‘a terrific person’ — tries to bring Putin back to the Group of Seven; conceals the details of their meetings,” Boot also wrote.
In an attempt to change the narrative away from impeachment, Trumpists and faux conservatives in the media became willing shills for Putin. After calling concern over Russia an “obsession” of the Left, Tucker Carlson declared on his FOX News show that Putin didn’t hate America as much as the media does:
“For Chuck Todd and the rest of the dummies, Vladimir Putin isn’t a real person with actual ideas and priorities and a country and beliefs. No, he stopped being that long ago. He’s a metaphor, a living metaphor, he’s the boogeyman! Step out of line and you’re a traitor in league with Vladimir Putin! … The irony, of course, is that Putin, for all his faults, does not hate America as much as many of these people do. They really dislike our country. And they call other people traitors? Because they’re ‘mouthing the talking points of Putin!’ These are people who don’t know anything about Russia, who don’t speak Russian!” (emphasis added)
A few days prior to this broadcast, Carlson defended Trump against impeachment by openly rooting for Russia to defeat Ukraine, although he later claimed to be joking after taking some heat for it.
Republicans haven’t suddenly contracted a sudden case of Libertarianism by opposing American support for Ukraine against Russia. Instead, their opposition is an expression of loyalty to the man who was impeached for attempting to blackmail Ukraine into digging up dirt on Joe Biden.
There was a day when conservatives praised Ronald Reagan for referring to the U.S.S.R. as an “evil empire.” Things sure have changed.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.
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