The Kansas City Star
Putin-enabling Trumpists like Josh Hawley need to call a wartime ceasefire on BS
The Kansas City Star Editorial Board – February 25, 2022
Predictably, the same Republicans — let’s start with you, Josh Hawley — who have spent years emboldening mad Vlad Putin are now claiming that it’s President Joe Biden whose weakness vis-a-vis Russia made the invasion of Ukraine inevitable.
Without any acknowledgment of their own complicity, or even that today’s talking points sound nothing like the appeasing tune they’ve been belting for the last five years, everyone from our disingenuous junior senator to disgraced former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens abruptly went back to sounding like the kind of pre-Trump Republicans who’d always known that what Ronald Reagan said about “the aggressive impulses of an evil empire” has not subsided under the KGB thug who wants his empire back.
Here’s our suggestion: You Trumpists, whose idol just this week emailed his followers a single “news” link — to a story on RT.com, the website of Kremlin-backed Russian state TV? And who even now praises the dissenter-poisoning dictator’s recent moves in Ukraine as “genius,” “savvy,” “wonderful,” and “smart?” Y’all need to call a wartime ceasefire on B.S.
The “America First” crowd has spent years undermining America with anti-NATO agitprop.
And now, with Putin intent on launching World War III, could they possibly pause the kind of projections about Biden’s alleged senility that Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall, whose acuity cannot be said to have slipped, recently indulged when he questioned the president’s mental health?
Apparently not. In Greitens’ speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, the top-polling GOP candidate in the race to replace Missouri’s Roy Blunt in the U.S. Senate said that “Biden’s policy of weakness and chaos leads to aggression like we’re seeing in Ukraine.”
Wait, was it Biden who praised the illegal 2014 invasion of Crimea, or denied solid U.S. intelligence about Russian interference in our election, or eased sanctions on Russian oligarchs, or thanked Putin for expelling our diplomats, or broke the law by freezing aid to Ukraine?
Or wanted to readmit Russia to the G-7? Or weirdly, out of nowhere, six years ago, inserted into his party’s platform that should Russia ever invade Ukraine, we would offer Ukraine no help?
No, that was the guy who no current national Republican other than Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, who have only metaphorically been sent to Siberia, is willing to question in any way.
But now, here we are, with Candace Owens tweeting that the United States is to blame for what’s happening in Ukraine, while authoritarian-loving Fox News host Tucker Carlson repeats outright Russian propaganda. There is an F-word for this, and it’s not the one you’d shout if someone cut you off in traffic.
And really, Greitens, this call to moral strength would be out of character, if you had any.
Hawley, who has not even once questioned Trump’s open admiration of strongmen, similarly asked the CPAC crowd on Thursday, “Is it any wonder that (Putin) feels emboldened … when we have a president who doesn’t believe in America?”
But was it Joe Biden who not only refused to call Putin a killer, but tried to say that the U.S. was in no way morally superior to a country where dissenters are assassinated, or if they’re lucky merely imprisoned? Was it Biden who asked Bill O’Reilly, “You think our country’s so innocent?”
Was it Biden whose unpaid campaign manager secretly owed millions to a Russian oligarch? Or whose national security adviser pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador? Is it our current president who constantly attacks NATO? Or who abandoned Syria, to Russia’s great delight? Again and again, no.
To be fair, though Trump had to be forced to impose sanctions on Russia, he did so finally. He also armed Ukraine, and understood the leverage that the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas project, designed to double the flow of Russian gas direct to Germany, handed to Putin.
Yet pretending that this aggression is on Biden is quite a performance, especially after so many on the right mocked him for correctly warning that what is happening was going to happen.
North Carolina Republican Mark Walker, who is running for the U.S. Senate, tweeted that as soon as Putin “begins to smell weakness, he goes on the offensive.”
If anything, it’s Trump followers running for office who have smelled the weakness in their previous indifference to Ukraine. Even Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance, who recently said on Steve Bannon’s show that “I don’t really care what happens to Ukraine one way or another,” has belatedly decided that on second thought, he does care. A lot, in fact.
Could that be because new polling shows that ordinary Republican voters are not as pro-Putin as their former president?
If Republican office-holders and office-seekers have finally seen the error of following a morally and financially bankrupt con man with no agenda other than self-enrichment, then they should say that.
And they will, of course. Just as soon as polling tells them to.
Meanwhile, however, there was Ted Cruz at CPAC, even as bombs were falling on Kyiv, laughing about how “powerful” it is for Americans to come together — to taunt our president with cheers of “Let’s Go, Brandon.”
Innocent lives are being lost in this unprovoked invasion, which as Biden said could very well lead to a wider war in Europe. We all will pay economically for Putin’s folly, as gas and other prices rise. Yet it would cost us even more in the long run, and not just in dollars, to let this killer have his way. If there ever were a time to knock off the political posturing and get serious, this would be it.