It would be nice if we could clone White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki thousands of times and send the newly minted Psaki Corps out to every drunk uncle and horse paste-chugging churl in the U.S., but we don’t have that technology. (Plus it might be unethical or something.)
But while the idea of a rhetorically well-armed Psaki Corps may be a nonstarter (and it would have been nice if someone had apprised me of the ethical conundrums before I designed the uniforms), we’re fortunate to have the Psaki we have. She’s more than a match for Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, who has been half-digesting and fully regurgitating Russian propaganda over the past several days.
After Hawley noted that maybe we should just give Putin what he wants in his increasingly aggressive campaign against Ukraine—a rhetorical dereliction that naturally plays right into Putin’s hands—Psaki let loose the dogs of war.
REPORTER: “Sen. Hawley put out a statement today saying that the president should take NATO membership off the table for Ukraine, that it wasn’t in U.S. interests to do that. Do you think that sort of rhetoric or that sort of position by a U.S. senator right now is helpful in this showdown between the West and Russia?”
PSAKI: “Well, if you are digesting Russian misinformation and parroting Russian talking points, you are not aligned with longstanding, bipartisan American values, which is to stand up for the sovereignty of countries, like Ukraine but others. Their right to choose their own alliances, and also to stand against, very clearly, the efforts or attempts or potential attempts by any country to invade and take territory of another country. That applies to Sen. Hawley, but it also applies to others who may be parroting the talking points of Russian propagandist leaders.”
It’s unclear exactly why Hawley suddenly decided to take the murderous thug Putin’s side over that of our natural ally, but it hasn’t gone over all that well, even among members of his own party.
In response to Hawley’s letter, Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of the few Republicans left in Congress who actually cares about representative democracy, tweeted this:
For the nontweeters:
“I hate to be so personal, but Hawley is one of the worst human beings, and a self [aggrandizing] con artist. When Trump goes down I certainly hope this evil will be [laid] in the open for all to see, and be ashamed of.”
When Hawley was informed of Kinzinger’s tweet, he laughed and responded, “Weird.” Kinzinger was ready for that one.
“It is weird. We are in weird times. Like having a Senator more interested in pleasing Tucker and playing to worst instincts than leading. Denying Jan 6th truth despite fomenting it, among other things.”
Yeah, weird indeed to see Republicans, who are generally all-in on unnecessary wars, do their level best to undermine our best efforts to prevent this one. I lost track of the number of times during the 2003 runup to the Iraq disaster that Republicans compared antiwar peeps (like me, or Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas) to notorious World War II appeaser Neville Chamberlain—all because we thought it might be foolish to invade a country for no clear reason. Well, now we have every reason in the world to project power, unity, and strength in defense of liberal democracy, and suddenly Republicans have cold feet. Unfortunately, this attempt to chip away at our united front can only embolden Putin, who wants nothing more than for the West to drop its longstanding commitment to democracy so he can ooze into the gaps.
Hawley, who attended both Stanford and Yale, must surely know that. Just as he surely knew there were no credible reports of voter fraud prior to the Jan. 6 riot that he egged on.
But Hawley has likely been watching Tucker Carlson, who’s making inroads with his viewers when it comes to supporting Putin against our friendly democratic ally.
That’s right: Carlson’s pro-autocratic bleating is now apparently informing the decisions of Republican politicians, who are distancing themselves from Ukraine as much as possible.
Republicans running in high-profile primary races aren't racing to defend Ukraine against a possible Russian invasion. They're settling on a different line of attack: Blame Biden, not Putin.
What's happening: Leery of the base, they are avoiding — and in some cases, rejecting — the tough-on-Russia rhetoric that once defined the Republican Party. GOP operatives working in 2022 primary races tell Axios they worry they'll alienate the base if they push to commit American resources to Ukraine or deploy U.S. troops to eastern Europe.
The big picture: Republican hopefuls who vow not to assist in any potential conflict in Ukraine are reflecting — and fanning — anti-interventionist sentiments in the modern GOP.
Hmm. Who’s like Neville Chamberlain now?
Of course, it helps not to elect a bellowing, kompromat-encrusted lout to the highest office in the land if you’re hoping to protect democracy and human rights around the globe. As Axios notes, frustration with our long, Republican-initiated wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as “former President Donald Trump's warmer posture toward Russia,” have helped nudge the GOP in this new direction.
That said, chances are Hawley is just playing politics here. If Biden had said we were going to bar Ukraine from NATO, Hawley would probably be calling for his impeachment this morning. The dude sways in whatever direction the foul Mordor winds blow.
But this isn’t a joke. We’re talking about the fate of a fragile democratic state with 44 million souls yearning to stay free. Americans once cared about such things, and many of us still do.
Then again, Josh Hawley isn’t much of an American, is he?
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