Putin is the autocrat of the exact sort that the Republican right have demanded this country also install. We have all seen Sen. Ted Cruz's mocking of the "woke" American military compared to the testosterone-heavy recruiting ads of the (now proven incompetent) Russian army. We have years of history of the most highly connected Republicans working directly with pro-Russian oligarchs to destabilize Ukrainian democracy in exchange for either cash or "favors"—in the form of fraudulent claims and documents that can be used against Republican enemies here at home. Fox News' Tucker Carlson went from cheering for Putin to vaguely condemning him to speedily shifting into a top international promoter of Kremlin "biolab" propaganda intended to retroactively justify the invasion.
The party is a wreck on this. And speaking of wrecks, here's Marjorie Taylor Greene, coming out with the straight-fascist conspiracy take. It no longer even matters whether she herself believes these things to be true; she is either a willing purveyor of hoaxes or an unwilling one, and either should be sufficient grounds to remove her from office outright.
Greene punctuated her speech, which was delivered soon after Ukrainian President Zelenskyy's virtual address to Congress, with repeated claims that Ukraine is certain to lose to Putin—a claim that, at this point, few outside the Kremlin are still claiming. On the contrary, the Russian advance has stalled out amid devastating supply shortages, the Putin government is urgently asking China for Chinese-made weapons to replace what they have expended, and as it currently stands Russia has devoted 75% of its total offensive forces to an effort which may end the nation's claims of superpower status.
There surely cannot be anyone left in America who believes that Marjorie Taylor Greene, of all people, has put even ten minutes of serious thought into what should or should not happen in Ukraine. But the more central point is that she is not an outlier on this.
Which Republican lawmakers have been eager to adopt Rudy Giuliani-pushed hoaxes claiming that their Democratic enemies-of-the-moment were responsible for all sorts of subterfuge in Ukraine and that the Ukrainian government was in cahoots with those efforts? Nearly all of them! And not just a little, but to the point that Republican lawmakers were willing to repeat those claims as part of their justifications for nullifying a U.S. constitutional election on behalf of the liars who invented the theories.
Which Republican lawmakers stubbornly insisted that there was no foul done when Donald Trump held up weapons shipments to an at-war Ukraine in a flagrantly crooked attempt to extort the Zelenskyy government into publicly endorsing a hoax aimed at Trump's election opponent? All of them, save one Republican senator.
Many of those same Republicans are now on television feigning great outrage over President Biden's unwillingness to directly engage Russian aircraft in combat. The very same Republicans were using Greene's arguments during Trump's first impeachment trial to argue that Trump's one-person blockade of military aid to Ukraine during a time of war was of no great consequence.
The Greene position is the basest form of the Republican position, in that she is not clever enough to couch her demands in the doublespeak most politicians use to pretend at nuance. The Republican position on Ukraine is that whatever is happening is the fault of Democrats, the answer is to do the opposite of whatever Democrats want to do, and the actual outcome—whether a European democracy lives or dies—is irrelevant. The war only exists as attack line. It is important only to the extent that it can be used to pin Bad Things on the movement's domestic enemies.
There is no unified Republican Party "position" on the Russia-Ukraine war. There are only attacks. A few senators are using the war to demand that the supposedly cowardly Biden administration do more. House Republicans who have long expressed at least subtle admirations for Putin (aka, the Trump wing of the party) is demanding their Democratic enemies do less. And all of it is a complete afterthought, as the dominant Republican theme of the war centers itself around rising gas prices, and why those rising gas prices are not Vladimir Putin's fault but the fault of Joe Biden because ... something.
There's no unified Republican Party position on what ought to happen in Europe because Republicanism no longer has any measurable, identifiable ideology that would guide such a thing. It's chaos. Tucker is promoting top Kremlin conspiracies, Greene is demanding the United States cut off supplies and let Putin win, Sen. Lindsey Graham is daring the administration to get into a shooting war, Donald Trump is still praising Putin's supposed genius even as his military gets bogged down, literally, in soggy Ukrainian fields.
The only unified party position is that of the typical fascist movement; no matter what crisis hits, it is their domestic enemies who are responsible, claims that are supported by newly constructed hoaxes supposing all of it to have been manufactured so as to benefit the secret corruption of their enemies, and whether the crisis ends well or in abject disaster is of no consequence except as a tool for further demonizing those domestic enemies.
We saw this at the beginning of the pandemic when even the most basic of emergency precautions were opposed en masse by a Republican Party devoted instead to claims that every one of those medical precautions—from masks to public closures to vaccines—was a supposed assault on nationalist freedoms. We are seeing it now, as Republicans take to the airwaves to claim that Putin only invaded Ukraine because Joe Biden tricked him into it, or looked "weak" compared to President Hamburglar, or that Biden is doing too little to protect Ukrainians but is also doing too much, which means temporarily high gas prices are his fault, which means we should be easing sanctions on Putin, but we should also be taking Russian yachts, and in the background, Tucker continues to yell about "biolabs" with all the conviction of a dog barking at passing cars.
Republicanism has long passed the point at which it can respond to a real crisis with urgency—or even competence. It cannot distinguish between true crises and its own crafted delusions, and does not care to, and instead insists that incompetence in times of crisis is itself bold. When Donald Trump botched each and every aspect of the early pandemic response, due largely to his fixation on assigning such tasks to incompetent, suck-up underlings, those failures became a newly invented ideology to rally around. No masks! No public safety measures! Testing is for cowards!
Republicanism is now obsessively a movement devoted to attacking the movement's own domestic enemies, and there is no ideology or policy that takes precedent over that. Greene is acting on reflex, but it is the reflex that the party base now demands of every one of its politicians. Anyone who can't handle the job, like Rep. Liz Cheney, is declared an enemy.
This was once a completely unremarkable centrist position. But now Cheney is the one being purged, and the Dear Leader-humping conspiracy goons of the party are those doing the purging.
Putin is doing the world a small favor in demonstrating that an autocratic government consisting of a single Dear Leader who surrounds himself with toadying yes-men and who cares not a damn about corruption—so long as it is corruption that benefits himself and his allies—will eventually hollow out their state to the point it becomes nonfunctional. This is not a lesson any of these Republicans will learn, as they demand the United States be recrafted into a similar one-party state that frees their own Dear Leader to violate laws at will and without consequence.
They won't learn from it because the party exclusively picks incompetent would-be autocrats to rise up their ranks while scrubbing out anyone with even the slightest bit of expertise. The rest of us, though, need to be watching closely.
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