Republicans have taken positions on Ukraine that span the spectrum from simply cheering for Putin and hoping he wins (Tucker Carlson, Donald Trump), to warn the United States that we had best not get involved because we would be utterly destroyed by Putin’s new and highly trained military (as opposed to ours, which has been “playing in a sandbox,” a quote from Rep. MadisonCawthorn and a view approximating Ted Cruz’s beliefs), that it is Joe Biden’s fault that Russia even wants to invade Ukraine, all the way to the firm belief that the Russians must be contained but Joe Biden is simply too weak to prevent it, which is why Russia is making its move in the first place.
But Politico has an article out this morning premised upon the fact that the Republicans not only lack any sort of unified position, other than stating that Biden is handling this poorly and they could do better, Trump or not, but also that the GOP’s inability to articulate the problem only exacerbates the most important consideration, what they believe should be done and thus how to most effectively criticize Biden.
Even as Trump portrays himself as better-equipped to counter Putin, the majority of congressional Republicans are backing Biden’s vow to impose crushing sanctions on Russia after its troops entered eastern Ukraine on Tuesday. Some have even praised Biden’s moves, like the deployment of additional US troops to Eastern Europe to boost NATO’s defenses.
But a vocal GOP minority on and off Capitol Hill – represented by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Fox News host Tucker Carlson and Ohio Senate candidate JD Vance, among others – has taken a third path, actively arguing against any US involvement in the region while still dinging Biden. They argue that expanding the US commitment to NATO is a mistake, and that the president should instead focus on countering China and securing America’s southern border.
This, of course, is just the latest reiteration of what I’ve written for the last six weeks, that the GOP is really two parties, and the two sides occasionally war with each other, though they make an effort to keep the shots in that war muffled and off the front pages. But it is fierce.
The first group, the one that even has expressed some support for Biden and – amazingly – the United States generally, we call the “GOP Proper” and it consists of people like McConnell, the people McConnell controls in the Senate. But this group is primarily made up of a lot of sophisticated DC Republicans who are not in office and aren’t ballot-compelled to kiss Trump’s ever-expanding behind.
The second group, we’ll call “GOP-MAGA” consists of people who have always seemed so strangely close to Russia, almost as if they feel more allegiance to Russian than, say, the country if it gets in the way of the party priorities. As the article says, JD Vance, Tucker Carlson, Madison Cawthorn, and – of course, Donald Trump embody this part of the GOP (which is “one party” in name only). These people would like to see us pull out of NATO, either don’t care or may even support Putin’s takeover of Russia and, always point to China when we have issues with Russia. China isn’t sending troops into Taiwan, Russia is sending troops into Ukraine. Our focus should be on the super-power currently moving its troops to expand its border. The GOP, both flavors, are irredeemable.
Politico goes on to state:
That discordant chorus is making it harder for Republicans to craft a unified message on Russia the way it did during last year’s chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan or during Putin’s invasion of Crimea when Barack Obama was president in 2014.
Conservatives in the third, self-described “America First” camp contend that the GOP base is on their side, even as congressional Republicans are for the most part in line behind Ukraine and NATO.
Politico, as it is want to do, is outthinking itself here. It would seem to near any Democrat watching, that the Republicans haven’t had any trouble at all unifying behind the fact that this wouldn’t happen under Trump and it’s only Biden’s weakness that opened the door. If there is support for Biden’s moves, it is occurring off-camera and off the record, which means it is not part of the GOP’s “message,” upon which the article is supposed to be premised.
So, while the two parties on the Right would do well to unify their position as to what should be done, that seems beyond their ability at this point. Republicans do not form policy, nor do they plan. They oppose Democrats and cut taxes and regulations, that’s it, it’s their raison d’etre. So anyone waiting for a unified Republican response as a plan resembling; “Here is what we should do,” may as well sit there and wait for Godot while at it. It is not going to happen.
On the record, the only thing they know is that Biden is doing a terrible job. Do not ask more from Republicans as to why Biden is blowing it or what he should be doing. It is not Republicans’ job to come up with actual policies. Remember, this is the party that doesn’t have a platform. When your only priority is power and defeating your only enemy, fellow Americans who disagree, platforms do nothing but limit your options.
Jason Miciak is a political writer, features writer, author, and attorney. He is originally from Canada but grew up in the Pacific Northwest as a dual Canadian-American citizen, which he grows increasingly thankful for every day. He now enjoys life as a single dad, writing from the beaches of the Gulf Coast, getting advice from his beloved daughter and teammate. He is very much the dreamy mystic that cannot add and loves dogs more than most people. He also likes studying cooking, theoretical physics, cosmology, and quantum mechanics. He likes pizza.
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