Trumpers Go All In For Putin

The following is part of The Moscow Primary: an irregular series on yours truly’s speculations regarding the views of the 2024 Republican nomination contest from the most important player: the Kremlin. 

Normally, the Christmas season doesn’t provide high political drama. Then again, the leader of a democracy defending itself against foreign aggression usually doesn’t come to Washington either. The last time that happened during Christmas was 1941. This week, Ukraine’s Volodomyr Zelensky came to town. The Republican Party’s response was … deeply suboptimal.

The overwhelming majority of Republicans in D.C. came to see and cheer Zelensky as he addressed Congress (WaPo) before turning right around and voting against the bill that would provide him the support he and his people need to defeat Russia. Of the 213 Republicans in the House of Representatives, 200 of them voted No; seven of the nine Yes votes are retiring. Barely a third of the Republican Senators voted for Aye. It was yet another sign of the GOP’s direction of travel towards becoming fellow travelers of the Kremlin.

Of course, for many in Trump-world, merely voting against Zelensky wasn’t enough. They threw in bonkers conspiracies, venomous lies, and pearl-clutching faux fashion sense (Bulwark). The larger point was clear though: nearly every Republican not leaving office either voted or spoke against Ukraine’s self-defense …

… with one very large exception.

As I write this, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has remained completely silent, along with all of DeSantis, Inc. Clearly, DeSantis is hoping to avoid tacking against the pro-Ukraine majority in America without angering the anti-Ukraine majority in the GOP. I doubt that will be sustainable for him – and it certainly doesn’t help him win the unseen but all-critical Moscow Primary.

Look for DeSantis to fall in line with boilerplate about taxpayer accountability and “asking questions” that are really designed to undermine support for Ukraine. We’ll see if it’s enough for him to win the nomination. The party as whole, however, has shown us more than enough evidence that it should be voted out of whatever power it now holds.

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