Last night, Amy Wang reported that "A growing number of U.S. lawmakers ratcheted up pressure on President Biden on Sunday to increase military aid to Ukraine, including sending fighter jets and air defense systems that the administration rejected last week... The bipartisan push underscores the growing hawkishness among many leaders on Capitol Hill, who have been urging Biden to do more to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian attacks as the war rages into its third week."
Rob Portman (R-OH), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) were in Poland over the weekend, urging Biden to counter escalating Russian aggression, Portman on live TV. Public opinion is also overwhelmingly in favor of Ukraine and against Putin. The newest YouGov poll for The Economist shows that 73% of Americans sympathize with Ukraine and that only 6% sympathize with Russia. Even among Trump voters, just 9% sympathize with Russia. 66% of Americans approve of sanctions and 17% disapprove (and even among Republicans just 20% disapprove). Among registered voters, 51% think the U.S. response should be tougher, 10% think it should be less tough and 23% think it's about right. (12% of Trump voters say the U.S. response is too tough.) 69% of registered voters want to see the U.S. sending more military aid to Ukraine and 17% oppose that. 21% of registered voters (and 27% of Trump voters) favor appeasement, and 52% think it's a bad idea (including 48% of Trump voters).
But not all American politicians are on the same page, let alone uniting behind Biden. The country is badly factored on a profound level-- and right-wing Republicans of the more Trumpist variety are biting their lips so as not to blurt out their pro-Putin perspectives. Some have failed-- like Madison Cawthorn, the wormy little Nazi from western North Carolina, who called Zelenskyy a "thug" and the Ukrainian government "evil." J.D. Vance, the Peter Thiel-owned Republican seeking to replace Portman, who is retiring, said he doesn't care what happens in Ukraine. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that "when Republican commentators who advocate for a strong American role in the world attacked him, Vance made a point to keep the fight going on social media and in appearances on conservative media outlets for several days. 'What’s happening in Ukraine has nothing to do with our national security, but it is distracting our idiot leaders from focusing on the things that actually do matter to our national security, like securing the border & stopping the flow of Fentanyl that’s killing American kids,' Vance said in a representative tweet on Monday, one of many. Vance also issued a statement Monday evening bashing Gibbons and Timken for supporting sanctioning Russia over Ukraine."
And then there's Tucker Carlson, Vladimir Putin's very own voice in America. Last night David Corn reported about the now infamous March 3 leaked Kremlin memo ordering Russian media to feature Carlson. From the 12 page memo: "It is essential to use as much as possible fragments of broadcasts of the popular Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who sharply criticizes the actions of the United States [and] NATO, their negative role in unleashing the conflict in Ukraine, [and] the defiantly provocative behavior from the leadership of the Western countries and NATO towards the Russian Federation and towards President Putin, personally... Russia is only protecting its interests and security."
The memo includes a quote from Carlson: "And how would the US behave if such a situation developed in neighboring Mexico or Canada?"
The March 3 document opens with top-line themes the Kremlin wanted Russian media to spread: The Russian invasion is “preventing the possibility of nuclear strikes on its territory”; Ukraine has a history of nationalism (that presumably threatens Russia); the Russian military operation is proceeding as planned; Putin is protecting all Russians; the “losing” Ukrainian army is shelling residential areas of eastern Ukraine controlled by Russia; foreign mercenaries are arriving in Ukraine; Europe “is facing more and more problems” because of its own sanctions; and there will be “danger and possible legal consequences” for those in Russia who protest the war. The document notes that it is “necessary to continue quoting” Putin. It claims that the “hysteria of the West had reached the inexplicable level” of people calling for killing dogs and cats from Russia and asks, “Today they call for the killing of animals from Russia. Tomorrow, will they call for killing people from Russia?”
A section headlined “Victory in Information War” tells Russian journalists to push these specific points: The Ukrainian military is beginning to collapse; the Kyiv government is guilty of “war crimes”; and Moscow is the target of a “massive Western anti-Russian propaganda” operation. It states that Russian media should raise questions about Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s state of mind and suggest he is not truly in charge of Ukraine. And it encourages these outlets to “broadcast messages” highlighting the law recently passed by the Russia Duma that makes it a crime to impede the war effort or disseminate what the government deems “false” information about the war, punishable for up to 15 years in prison. This portion instructs Russian journalists to emphasize that these penalties apply to anyone who promotes news about Ukrainian military victories or Russian attacks on civilian targets.
This is the section of the memo that calls on Russian media to make as much use as possible of Tucker Carlson’s broadcasts. No other Western journalist is referenced in the memo.