Grim Reaper

It’s time to stop pledging allegiance to the Grim Reaper of Russia!

Trump and his allies insist that Russia would never have invaded Ukraine were he still president. And Russia did not make aggressive moves on his watch, something former aides and others credit to his erratic behavior and direct threats that left world leaders uncertain of how Trump would respond to a provocation. —Associated Press (March 29, 2022)

The attempt of the Trump-inspired “America First” campaigns to fill ballots with conservative Republican candidates on all levels has taken some hits for its touchy-feely treatment of Russia and Putin in recent years. It appears Donald Trump himself is one of the few public figures left who regard Putin as “smart” and “brilliant,” to quote the former president. In a way, the horror of the Ukraine invasion is the most bipartisan issue our legislators have agreed upon in a long time. The persistently familiar problem is that it is campaign season, and silliness abounds as to who of us is at fault for a conflict between two other countries.

Biden’s taking the heat because he’s the guy in the White House, which means that regardless of what he says or does in dealing with the Russian debacle in Ukraine, it is somehow his fault. It’s even his fault that Putin decided to invade the country, with less than stellar success, by the way, because, well, Putin was seemingly on good behavior during Trump’s watch.

A spade may be a spade, but we can’t have our president running around calling a war criminal a war criminal. Right?

You see, weak-kneed Joe stated, in a moment of passion, that “this man cannot remain in power.” That’s a no-brainer, in my opinion, but was he talking assassination, incarceration, deposition or demotion? Well, I guess demotion is out, because the former KGB kahuna probably won’t qualify for reassignment as a Kremlin security guard.

Let’s face it. We all know this murderous warmonger needs to be ousted. Sen. Lindsey Graham has gone so far as to suggest it would be great if someone in Russia would, in his words, “take this guy out.” This clearly proposes assassination, but Republicans and even some of the liberal woke mob feel Biden’s wording was too harsh and might take us scarily close to nuclear war.

My problem with President Biden is not his comment, with which I agree, but that administrative spokespersons quickly began “walking back” his so-called off-the-script remarks. I say keep it in the script and proudly proclaim your belief that Putin must go—somehow, anyhow— to stop the continuing morally reprehensible onslaught on Ukraine. Had Hitler been deposed shortly after provoking war on Poland, think of the death and destruction that would have been averted.

For the Russian people themselves to remove Putin from power, they need to know the truth and not the lies they are being told about how Ukraine is the instigator and the belligerent. We’re hoping they will see through the fabrication and do what needs to be done, and that is, as both Biden and Graham suggest, get this madman out of there.

Some Americans find it hard to understand why Russians would fall for such an obvious lie. Like most patriots, they want to believe their country is in the right and they are the chosen ones, a sentiment they share with some self-proclaimed American patriots. That means it’s going to take a lot of convincing to help them see the lies. It seems that we have already seen evidence where people in this country— a democracy where citizens have access to truths not available to Russians —can convince themselves that a lie is the truth just because it is something they want to believe. It’s easier not to believe in Santa when there are no presents under the tree.

Little lies may be constructed into big ones by distorted logic. It makes sense, this brand of logic tells us, so it must be so. It is even more effective if it reinforces our own beliefs.

This can be seen in the campaign ads for the U.S. Senate and House we’re being flooded with right now on network and cable television. I previously assumed there had to be a truth-in-advertising requirement in political ads on TV, as there are for advertising claims for everything from breakfast cereal to prescription meds. Turns out there are no Federal Trade Commission rules requiring candidates to be factual in their campaign rhetoric— with exception being slander. But if their opponent or target is a public figure, as is the case with anyone seeking or holding state or federal office, they can pretty much say what they want and leave it up to the voters to fact-check. The bottom line is the federal government requires broadcasters to accept candidates’ political ad whatever the content.

You can spend millions of dollars to overwhelm unwary citizens with lies, and nobody can do anything about it as long as they can pay for their time. Like candidates’ claims of rigged elections, the lie will not die. Just keep repeating the lies. Repetition has become the mother of invention in politics.

Nobody is spending more than Dave McCormick, Republican hedge-fund millionaire, for the U.S. Senate seat occupied by Republican Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania: $14.2 million as of March 10, with $7.7 million of that coming from a Super PAC called Honor Pennsylvania. McCormick drew attention for his “Let’s go, Brandon!” TV ad, but the silliest was his own distortion of logic when he essentially declared Biden responsible for Russia invading and attempting to destroy Ukraine. You see, Putin unleashed his bloody invasion on Biden’s watch, and before that attacked Syria and Crimea on Obama. They didn’t invade any countries on Trump’s watch, and, by extension of that logic, Putin’s fear and respect of Trump thwarted his murderous intentions. By further extension, Trump is tough, Biden is weak, and McCormick, a Trump apostle who makes this point in current ads, should therefore be elected to the Senate. That’s what I mean by distorted logic and what appears to be an admiration for Putin that was nurtured by none other than Donald Trump before, during and after his presidency.

Meanwhile, Trump, who America First candidates depict as being so tough on Russia, has effusively praised Putin as a brilliant leader time and again— even as recently as the Ukraine invasion. Apparently, his assessment of Putin’s genius has since been rendered misguided now that the Russians aren’t looking like much of a superpower in conquering these underdogs.

Giving Credit to a Bloodthirsty Warmonger

Back in the spring of 2014, before any of us knew he would run for president, Trump praised Putin for his invasion of Crimea and mocked Obama for being outplayed by the Russian chess master.

“Well, he’s done an amazing job of taking the mantle,” Trump said of Putin in a televised interview. “And he’s taken it away from the President (Obama), and you look at what he’s doing. And so smart. When you see the riots in a country because they’re hurting the Russians, OK, ‘We’ll go and take it over.’ And he really goes step by step by step, and you have to give him a lot of credit.”

Trump seems so enamored with Putin that he has consistently praised him as “a genius” up to the present. The truth is, as is often the case with Donald Trump, flattery will get you everywhere.

“Russia is like, I mean they’re really hot stuff,” Trump said while in office, proclaiming that Putin had Ukrainians “marching in favor of joining Russia.”

Trump likes to say of Putin that “I have come to know him well,” but he apparently knows nothing about the strength and courage of the people of Ukraine.

We’re talking about dozens of times that Trump waxed poetic— as poetic as Trump can get, that is— about his fondness and respect for Vladimir Putin, and stating with pride on one occasion, “I do have a relationship with him.” Then, when pressed, he’ll disclaim knowing him at all.

Trump even defended Putin when an interviewer commented that the Russian president had murdered reporters and dissidents in his own country who spoke out against his cruelty.

“He’s running his country and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country,” he said. In other words, even if Putin has killed a few detractors, it’s no worse than what the United States has done:  “I think our country does plenty of killing also.”

Trump’s fondness for Putin stems from flattery bestowed upon him. At a California rally in June 2016, he betrays his vulnerability to fawning despots: “Then Putin said, ’Donald Trump is a genius, he’s going to be the next great leader of the United States.’ No, no, think of it. They wanted me to disavow what he said. How dare you call me a genius. How dare you call me a genius, Vladimir…”

And so the homages to Putin spewed throughout the Trump Presidency. Is this the tough stance that apparently kept Putin from invading another country until the second year of Biden’s presidency? Biden doesn’t get it. It’s all about flattery and kissing up to your enemy whatever their sins may be.