While they’re all saying the right things now, pounding their chests about how tough they are on Russia, the GOP has a Vladimir Putin problem. And it’s up to us to speak out, as well as force the mainstream media to recognize this lame attempt at revisionist history.
As Putin continues to butcher innocent civilians and destroy Ukraine for no legitimate reason whatsoever, the blatant hypocrisy exhibited by a large number of the Republican apparatus is astounding. This group includes current and former politicians and members of right-wing media and continues – as if we all have short memories.
Unfortunately, in America, that’s precisely the case. We have short memories here, but there’s also a more troubling aspect: many of us simply do not pay attention to world events or domestic politics. Republican politicians know this to be true; thus, they have no problem lying to people’s faces. The only way to hold them to account is to confront them on their previous statements or press them on their continued support for the leader of their party, who never misses an opportunity to praise the brutal dictator of Russia.
So with the 2022 mid-term elections fast approaching, it’s time for a refresher course in how the political posturing we see right now from the GOP differs from their stances and statements over the past six years.
Let’s go way back to the 2016 election when Donald Trump continually praised Putin while ultimately accepting his help defeating Hillary Clinton for the presidency. Some in the GOP will say that the whole thing about collusion was a hoax, parroting the rhetoric from Trump. It was all a witch hunt, he said over and over.
Sorry, but it was not a hoax. We must never forget that Russia did help Trump in 2016, and we have the Mueller Report as proof. Several members of the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Kremlin-linked company headquartered in Saint Petersburg, were charged with crimes related to the massive disinformation campaign waged on social media throughout the campaign. Without a doubt, it was a blatant attempt to help Trump, as Mueller clearly pointed out in his report.
Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager for a brief period, was indicted, as was his deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates. In all, Mueller’s team indicted or got guilty pleas from 34 people and three companies during the investigation.
I read the report. I realize not many Americans have the time or even desire to read a 400 plus page report. If they did, however, they’d realize that while Mueller never could conclude that there was a conspiracy, which would have led to indictments, there were, nonetheless countless contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. In other words, collusion.
Mueller also pointed out in the report that when it came to proving a conspiracy, they encountered uncooperative, evasive, and incomplete information from members of the Trump campaign. Thus, they could not charge anyone with that particular crime. But make no mistake, Russia interfered, and they interfered to help Trump win. It’s an inconvenient truth most GOP members of Congress would like everyone to forget.
And when they were in charge of Congress, they couldn’t care less to find out what happened with Russian interference in the 2016 election. Instead, they focused on the investigators of the interference themselves. That’s right; they investigated the investigators. Most of them had more contempt for the FBI than they did for Putin and his thugs.
And while Ukraine is fresh in everyone’s mind these days, let’s remember that they were at the center of Trump’s efforts to win reelection in 2020 and led to his first impeachment. His infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, asking him for a favor in lieu of vital military aid, represents quite the contrast to today’s GOP chiding President Biden for not doing enough to help Ukraine.
Back then, of course, they didn’t think it was enough to impeach their leader for withholding that aid. Trump wanting Zelenskyy to dig up dirt or simply announce an investigation into Biden’s son Hunter wasn’t enough to impeach. But you can bet they’ll nail Biden at every possible turn for being “weak” when it comes to Russia.
And by not impeaching him, they inevitably put the stamp of approval on Trump’s head. It essentially was that way for his four years in office. We saw the capitulation and lavish praise Trump gave to Putin, and for the most part, complete and utter silence from the GOP while he did it. There were denunciations here and there, but it was never sustained and usually forgotten within days. The wrath of a Trump tweet was a bridge too far for most of them.
To that end, Republican Representative Liz Cheney made some news this past weekend when she asked the following question: “Is there a Putin wing of the GOP?” You’d be hard-pressed to say no, quite frankly – the present chest-thumping and cries for more sanctions on Russia notwithstanding. Yes, they’re talking tough and agreeing with the rest of the world now. But it’s hard to take any of them seriously when they stayed ominously silent when Trump was cozying up to Putin and denigrating NATO as he did for most of his presidency.
Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas couldn’t even find the words to condemn Trump for his earlier comments praising Putin for being “savvy” and “smart” for going into Ukraine. George Stephanopoulos repeatedly tried on his ABC Sunday show to get him to call out Trump for the comments, to no avail.
Cotton, for one, was one of the most outspoken critics of Democrats trying to impeach Trump over his Ukraine strong-arm tactics, minimizing the pause in aid as nothing more than looking into a realistic possibility of corruption within the Ukrainian government. Which, by the way, was a completely ludicrous assumption. There was no evidence then, or now, that Ukraine was involved whatsoever in the 2016 election – a talking point initiated by none other than Putin himself.
None of it was a big deal for Cotton or most of the GOP, for that matter. They had a chance to make a statement and make it known that a sitting United States president should never enlist the help of foreign governments to get reelected. Instead, they let him get away with it, just as they did when he was impeached a second time for inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
We can also not let former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s praise of Putin go by without calling him out, or our buddy Tucker Carlson and others at Fox News who can never seem to blow enough kisses at the Russian President. After all, he’s the authoritarian hero many conservatives admire. It’s also why they love Trump so much.
The bottom line is this. Republican politicians and right-wing media pundits will be doing their best to make us all think they are the toughest of the tough regarding policies toward Russia. We simply cannot let them get away with it. Reporters need to press them repeatedly as to why the leader of their party continues to have a hard time being critical of the brutal dictator from Russia. And why is it that they cannot denounce Trump vociferously for not doing so?
Revisionist history is a hallmark of the Republican Party. In this election year, an enormously important one at that, we cannot allow them the opportunity to establish their newly discovered anti-Russian rhetoric. Let’s hope the American electorate is wise enough to see through these political games.
The evidence is clear. The Republican Party enabled Trump for four years while he did his best to suck up to a tyrant. There’s an old saying that says, if you permit it, you promote it. And many of them are still doing it to this very day.