Republicans Can’t Settle on Ukraine Message

[Update: The attack on Ukraine has begun.]

Republicans are united in criticizing President Biden for the Ukraine crisis. However, they don’t agree on why Biden should be criticized.

Some are blaming Biden for being weak. This wouldn’t have happened if Biden were strong, like Trump. See Bess Levin, Republicans Claim Putin Wouldn’t Have Invaded Ukraine Under a Beefy Piece of Man Meat Like Trump, in Vanity Fair. (I had to link to that, just for the title.)

Claiming that “Biden becoming president is the best thing that ever happened…for Vladimir Putin,” Senator Ted Cruztold Fox News on Sunday that “Europe is on the verge of war because of the weakness, the fecklessness of Joe Biden.” The Texas lawmaker, who has been happy to do his part to spread Russian propaganda that benefits a man who claimed Cruz’s own father helped kill JFK, followed that up with a press release on Monday declaring that “Biden–Harris officials are to an enormous extent directly responsible for this crisis.”

Echoing those comments on Monday was Marco Rubio who, incidentally, has reportedly been happy to acceptpolitical donations from Len Blavatnik, a billionaire with “longstanding ties to oligarchs close to” Putin. Without referring to the president by name, though the reference was more than clear, the senator from Florida tweeted: “Weakness always invites aggression. And weakness in response to aggression always invites others to be aggressive as well.” Senator John Barrassotold Fox News last week that Biden “talked tough but Putin doesn’t respect statements, he only respects strength,” claiming the president of Russia “views President Biden as weak and ineffective and indecisive.” In January, Senator Tom Cotton blamed Putin’s aggression on “a year of Joe Biden’s impotence and incompetence towards Russia in particular and in foreign policy more generally,” somehow forgetting that Trump spent four years passionately kissing Putin’s ass.

I have reason to believe that Levin wrote this before Trump called Putin’s move on Ukraine “genius.”

Now, exactly what do these people mean by “strength? Is it standing submissively next to Putin in Helsinki and confessing he believed Putin’s “strong and powerful” denials over the analysis of U.S. intelligence agencies? Was it fawning over Putin like a lovesick puppy during World War I commemorations in France?

Many people have pointed out that the Republicans have not proposed a different approach to dealing with Ukraine. Seriously, they haven’t. They just think Biden should be stronger. But what does that mean?

Paul Waldman:

Though some Republicans say the sanctions at the center of Biden’s strategy should have started earlier, you’ll have a hard time finding one who can specify in any detail what Biden’s “weakness” toward Russia has consisted of to this point, nor what a “strong” president would be doing instead. Mounting a ground invasion to take Moscow? Launching nuclear weapons? What?

If the answer is “What Biden is doing, but, you know, more,” that’s not very persuasive. But as far as they’re concerned, “strength” isn’t something presidents demonstrate with their actions; it’s more of an ineffable quality that Republican presidents possess by definition while Democratic presidents lack.

I clearly remember that last week some people believed that Biden was the one causing the crisis in Ukraine, or at least he was causing panic over a non-crisis in Ukraine. Tucker Carlson has had a grand time making fun of Biden’s predictions that Russia would invade Ukraine. Now that the invasion has begun, it’s Joe Biden’s fault because he was too weak to stand up to Putin.

Waldman continues,

Consider Trump. Short of literally getting down on his hands and knees to shine Putin’s shoes, there’s almost no way you could imagine Trump having been weaker toward Putin than he actually was. Trump continually praised the Russian dictator, dismissed his misdeeds and went out of his way to denigrate NATO — just as Putin would want.

It culminated in the utterly disgraceful display at the 2018 summit in Helsinki, when Trump was asked about Russian interference in the 2016 election and declared he was taking Putin’s word over the analysis of U.S. intelligence agencies, because “President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

It was so embarrassing that even Republicans were shocked; then-Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee said Trump “made us look like a pushover.” Sen. John McCain called it “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.” Nevertheless, today Republicans claim that when it came to Russia, Trump was a paragon of strength.

Yeah, not so strong. But the prize goes to Maria Bartiromo at Fox, who declared last week that the Ukraine crisis was a hoax.

“What about this hysteria that the State Department went through all weekend?” she asked. “Because on Friday, you’ve got [national security adviser] Jake Sullivan telling us that Russia would invade Ukraine today. I mean, to be so specific and all the leakers leaking that it was today, Wednesday to be so specific and then Joe Biden telling us, get out of Ukraine immediately.”

“Was this a ruse?” she continued. “Was this whole thing an effort to take everybody’s attention away from what Hillary Clinton did and what we know to be a complete hoax over this Russia investigation?” After all, she continued, Sullivan worked for Clinton, and he had been involved in “peddling this Russia collusion lie.”

Then there’s another faction of Republicans who have decided that the United States should just ignore what Putin is doing in Ukraine. From Politico,

But a vocal GOP minority on and off Capitol Hill — represented by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Fox News host Tucker Carlson and Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance, among others — has taken a third path, actively arguing against any U.S. involvement in the region while still dinging Biden. They argue that expanding the U.S. commitment to NATO is a mistake, and that the president should instead focus on countering China and securing America’s southern border.

Ol’ Hee-Hawley is in way over his Ivy League-educated head, I bellieve. Poor Jack Danforth, who was a respectable Cold War-era Republican back in the day, must be mortified he helped Hawley get a start in politics.

This situation isn’t good for anybody. Expect energy prices to skyrocket; that’s hardly something Biden wants. But no, Josh, we can’t ignore this.


4 thoughts on “Republicans Can’t Settle on Ukraine Message

  1. This is the man our conservatives adore:

    Putin is a gangster.

    Nothing more, nothing less.

    He became KGB because what else would he do?  What else could he do?  He studied law, and then went immediately into the KGB.  Can you imagine him as a lawyer?

    In an Autocratic system, gangsters like Putin are invaluable.  They are necessary men.  The KGB handles the "problem children." 

    In an Autocracy, beatings will be needed.  Better call Vlad! 

    "Wet work" will be needed.  Better call Vlad!

    Scaring witnesses or journalists needed?   Better call Vlad!

    Closing down a company?  Vlad's your man!

    Need an old foe poisoned!  Yup:  Vlad.

    Torture has long been something the Russians used – from the times of the Czars, to this very day.  Need someone tortured?  Call Vlad! 

    Now I'm not saying. he did all of these horrible things himself.  He may not have done many of them himself.   But Putin will know who you can use.

    After the USSR collapsed, Putin stayed close to the folks who had the power.   Eventually, he moved to Moscow, worked closely with Premier Yeltsin, and became the leader of Russia.

    This is Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.  The RepubliKKKLANs favorite world leader!



    Russia became a Kleptocracy because the criminals knew how to marke


  2. The GOP is salivating over the chance – not guarantee – that they can take back Congress and maybe the WH. The actual health of the country and the promotion of actual policy is absent. The strategy for defeating the Democrats is to vilify everything that Biden does. Anything bad that happens in the world is Biden's fault. 

    Oil prices have nothing to do with the greed of oil companies and the manipulation of the supply by the oil-producing countries.  Oil prices were lower a year ago (and before.) This was the result of an economic war between the Saudis and Russia who both flooded the market with gas driving prices down.  I'm not sure how they (Russia & SA) decided to cut the global supply to drive up prices – was it related to Biden winning the election?  Putin is smart enough to know that higher prices at the pump have/will hurt Biden. 

    The war is on, as of 30 minutes ago. There are/are strikes in Kiev (missiles or something.)  Republicans are (with a few exceptions) opposed to what Putin is proposing. Combine the invasion with the grand vision of Russia in size and power like it was pre-revolution! (Around 1900) 

    Even Ted Cruz yesterday gave Biden credit for his actions so far, and this was pre-invasion. McConnell is old-school – he's opposed to Russian expansion. There's going to be more Republicans alligned with Biden in opposition to the invasion. And the messaging gets really messy because Trump supports Putin and the operations in Dunbas. Where is Fox going to come down in terms of policy? (Watch for comments from the governor of FL – Fox has been grooming him as a potential rival to Trump.) If DeSantis opposes the invasion, so will Fox, with the intention of boxing Trump in on the wrong side of a major political crisis. True, it won't sway the Trumpster but the conservative-leaning independent may find Trump's ass-kissing Putin to be distasteful. Not to be ignored is how much Mcconnell wants Trump sidelined – McConnell has a lot of power with Republicans in the Senate. IMO, if  McConnell had to choose, he'd prefer ANYONE in the WH but Trump. If Russia/Ukraine is the issue that can take Trump down, Mitch will be the first Senator to stab Trump. 

    Biden will not send US troops to Ukraine or anyplace where there will be a direct confrontation with Russians. This is the old policy for DC and Moscow – we fight through proxies – North Vietnam was supported by Moscow – we helped arm the Afghans after Russia invaded. The reason is that the US and Russia have nuclear arsenals and we don't want to set off Armageddon. (Supplying the Ukrainian resistance is within the rules.) 

    My call is that the GOP will work with Biden and Democrats in the Senate to oppose Russia. This will be a break and change in SOP of demonizing everything Biden does. I think GOP leaders will see no option because supporting the Russian conquest of a democracy can't be sold to most voters – Democrats would clean the GOP clocks in 2022 midterms.  So they are stuck on the same side of the fence as Biden. And the Trumpsters and friends of Putin will be far outside the mainstream.

  3. The United States must follow Europe's lead here.  This is going to be a big problem for both political parties as neither are good at following.  More so, obstructionism has become engrained as an acceptable political tool.  When one reads that a group bearing a Nazi flag interrupted some event in Maine, we know obstructionism has gone rampant.  So worse than that we have groups that are run amuck (like the tantrum truckers), and just getting in the way. Funding for the tantrum truckers came from all over the United States as was reported in the MSM.  Cannot these donors see how similar the tantrum truckers' methods are to organizations such as ISIS.  The similarity is obvious to me. Are not both organizations, ISIS and the tantrum truckers, just demanding to get their way, or they will obstruct and break things?

    War is the lowest and most primitive method of argumentation and war using terrorist tactics is even less civilized than conventional warfare.  War is the result of a failure of all other diplomatic measures and appeals involving reason, morals, ethics, and emotion. It is said that Truth is the first casualty of war, but as we see, respect for the Truth dies way before the other killing begins.  Let us not forget the first impeachment, when our nation's leader had coerced Ukraine's leader to spread lies regarding his political opponents.  He even sent Rudy over as his agent in his mission of engineering lies and misinformation.  Now many will suffer and die in Ukraine and many more will sacrifice and suffer in Europe due to this war.  TPG does not care.  He roots for Putin who also acts as if Truth is subservient to his will.  The Republican party must rally around Liz Cheney, as the Truth is certainly proven to be the coin of the realm.  It is their only path to redemption,    

  4. Is this why Trump insisted that there be no records or recordings of his conversations with Putin? The current crackpot paranoid theory is that Trump promised Putin the Ukraine, and as far as Putin was concerned Trump's failure to get re-elected wasn't going to stop him. Just because its a crackpot paranoid theory doesn't mean it is wrong.


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