Putin’s Useful Idiots In Congress (And On Fox) Embarrassed America Wednesday Night
For me it began early in the day when Trump’s good-for-nothing, untreated drug addict son used Twitter to refer to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as “an ungrateful international welfare queen.” By evening the craziest member of the House, Arizona Nazi dentist Paul Gosar, was using Twitter to pretend his pal Vlad wasn’t the unprovocated aggressor, insinuating that Zelinskyy is. Or maybe Gosar buys into the Putin circle’s very bizarre homophobic claims of provocation. Wait til QAnon hear about this one! The Zelenskyy speech at the joint session Wednesday night was historic… but most Republicans boycotted it.
There were just 85 or so GOP members who bothered to show up— and some of them showed up for some pro-Putin performative art, particularly Matt Gaetz and his date, Lauren Boebert— who sat in their seats texting each other all during the speech, not bothering to take part in any of the standing ovations. Also conspicuously not applauding were crackpot Russo-Republcians like Tim Burchett (R-TN), Andrew Clyde (R-GA) and Sam Bankman-Fried-owned Warren Davidson (R-OH). Davidson, one of the most corrupt members of Congress by any measure, who does nothing without a bribe— and likely to go to prison for his role in the Blockchain-8 bribery scandal— said “We should be focused on trying to contain the war, not expand the war. And this kind of sends the message we’re kind of OK with expanding the war. And I think we should be sending a different message… I’d be for voting for an inspector general to find what they did with all the money that we already sent them.” Normal members of Congress and others in the chamber gave Zelinskyy at 2 minute standing ovation when he entered, but the Russo-Republicans who bothered to show up conspicuously set on their hands. They weren’t pleased when he said things like “Ukraine is alive and kicking.” A significant number of Putinistas in the GOP want to appease Russia by cutting aid to Ukraine and allowing it to be gobbled up. Far right psycho Thomas Massie (R-KY) bragged that he boycotted “the Ukrainian lobbyist.”
Reporting for Politico, Shayna Greene and Sarah Ferris wrote that despite the largely warm reception, several Republican lawmakers, including those set to assume top leadership positions, aren’t yet ready to commit to keeping the funding going in the next session.” The Trump-Putin axis is vehemently opposed to aid, of course. Rather than sound like traitors— which is what they are— the Russo-Republicans are demanding an accounting for every bullet fired. Scalise told them that “Obviously, there’s concern that the money’s going to the places that it’s intended. Having any taxpayer dollars that go anywhere, whether it’s domestically or abroad, deserves scrutiny… We expressed an interest in making sure the money is going to be scrutinized. That’s something that we still will keep pushing for.”
Michael Luciano reported that Putin-aligned Fox host Tucker Carlson “ripped” Zelenskyy “immediately after the leader delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress. The anti-American Carlson told his viewers that “the president of Ukraine arrived at the White House dressed like the manager of a strip club and started to demand money. Amazingly, no one threw him out. Instead, they did whatever he wanted. American taxpayers, Joe Biden declared, will continue to give Zelensky whatever he demands for ‘as long as it takes.’ Tellingly, Biden never specified what ‘it’ is. ‘As long as it takes’ to do what? Push the Russian army back to pre-invasion borders? Sounds reasonable. That’s what most Americans likely assume, most who are paying attention. But that is not what Zelensky means and it is not what he’s asking for… The point was to fawn over the Ukrainian strip club manager and hand him billions more dollars from our own crumbling economy. It is hard, in fact, it may be impossible to imagine a more humiliating scenario for the greatest country on Earth.”
Before dawn yesterday Cathy Young noted that the far right was losing their shit over Zelinskyy’s visit, “triggering a deluge of snark and grievance.” And it goes beyond just the usual suspects like Gaetz and Boebert.
“National conservative” pundit and Newsweek opinion editor Josh Hammer, who played the “obviously Putin is a thug and Ukraine is the victim here, but . . .” game in the early days of the war, went full Putin this time around.
To top it off, Hammer, who shares Zelensky’s Jewish heritage, also accused the Ukrainian president of being a bad Jew— unseemly under any circumstances, but all the more so considering that only a few days earlier, Hammer had been spotted at a New York Young Republicans’ Club Gala in the company of various alt-right types with, shall we say, a complicated relationship to anti-Semitism. (Among them: Rep. Marjorie “Jewish Space Lasers” Taylor Greene, the founders of the white-nationalist website VDARE, and erstwhile Jew-baiting troll Jack Posobiec.)
…[F]rom the Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh (“Get this grifting leech out of our country please”) to Tucker Carlson, who referred to Zelensky as a “Ukrainian strip club manager”— apparently because he was dressed in a olive-drab sweatshirt—and asserted that “it may be impossible to imagine a more humiliating scenario for the greatest country on Earth.” He also insisted that Zelensky is seeking not just to “push the Russian army back to pre-invasion borders,” which even Carlson conceded “sounds reasonable,” but to topple Vladimir Putin and bring about “regime change” in Russia. After Zelensky’s speech to Congress, Carlson brought on former Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, the “maverick” Democrat from Hawaii, to sing along with his assertions that Zelensky was actually an autocrat muzzling critical media outlets, jailing opposition politicians, and now trying to shut down an entire church because he finds it insufficiently loyal.
(In reality, the situation involving the Moscow-affiliated branch of the Orthodox Church— one of the two Orthodox denominations in Ukraine— is massively complicated; in wartime, there are legitimate security concerns about its clergy’s reported activities in support of the invaders. However, a quote Carlson attributes to Zelensky, threatening “economic and restrictive sanctions [on] any Christian caught worshiping in unapproved ways,” does not seem to have any source other than Carlson himself.)
Then there was this from Red State commentator Brandon Morse, asserting that Zelensky has done much more damage to the United States than the January 6th rioters:
A few other right-wing pundits, including career plagiarist-turned-conspiracy-theory-peddler Benny Johnson and Turning Point USA grifting leech Charlie Kirk, homed in on the really important stuff: Zelensky’s outfit.
Of course Zelensky’s clothes were meant to visually convey the fact that he’s in the middle of a brutal war. When you’re just back from a visit to the front lines in an area that looks like a ghost warscape from World War I come back to life, you’ve earned the right to make that particular fashion statement— even on a visit to Washington, D.C.
I could go on and on. But perhaps this parade of indecency should come back full circle to a literal obscenity from Don Jr.: a photoshopped image that put a naked Hunter Biden next to Zelensky on the podium addressing Congress. (Warning: this tweet may be hazardous to your eyes.) It’s vile, of course. It’s also the sort of thing you post when you have no substantive way to attack someone.
[Elon Musk removed the Trump, Jr tweet]
…The question of why the Trumpian populist right is so consumed with hatred for Ukraine— a hatred that clearly goes beyond concerns about U.S. spending, a very small portion of our military budget, or about the nonexistent involvement of American troops— doesn’t have a simple answer. Partly, it’s simply partisanship: If the libs are for it, we’re against it, and the more offensively the better. (And if the pre-Trump Republican establishment is also for it, then we’re even more against it.) Partly, it’s the belief that Ukrainian democracy is a Biden/Obama/Hillary Clinton/”Deep State” project, all the more suspect because it’s related to Trump’s first impeachment. Partly, it’s the “national conservative” distaste for liberalism— not only in its American progressive iteration, but in the more fundamental sense that includes conservatives like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher: the outlook based on individual freedom and personal autonomy, equality before the law, limited government, and an international order rooted in those values. Many NatCons are far more sympathetic to Russia’s crusade against secular liberalism than to Ukraine’s desire for integration into liberal, secular Europe.
Whatever the reason, the anti-Ukraine animus on the right is quite real and widespread. (When journalist Bari Weiss, who has a largely “anti-woke” following, retweeted a Hanukkah greeting from Zelensky, the responses from her followers in the thread were mostly hostile.) But right now, it also smells of desperation. Ukraine’s cause is still massively popular in the United States, with two-thirds of Americans supportive of sending money and arms. Disingenuous laments about the poor Ukrainians exploited by American and European globalists ring hollow and false when the vast majority of Ukrainians are so clearly determined to resist the invasion. And Zelensky… is a genuine hero: patriotic, incredibly courageous and charismatic, and a speaker so compelling that even congressional right-wingers who initially refused to join in the standing ovations (including Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert, and Andrew Clyde) finally rose up during the last portions of his speech.