Commentary

With Ukraine War, Republicans get religion on democracy | John L. Micek

Some attempted violent overthrows of democratically elected governments just hit differently, it seems

March 8, 2022 2:29 pm

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-10th District, speaking at a Capitol news conference on Thursday, 7/29/21 (C-Span screen capture)

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, who once advised President Donald Trump’s White House on undermining the 2020 election results, and who was a target of the U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, has now found a democracy worth defending.

It’s in Kyiv.

Taking to Twitter on Sunday, Perry, R-10th District, one of seven Pennsylvania Republicans who asked the U.S. Supreme Court to effectively topple the election results in his home state, denounced Russian strongman Vladimir Putin as a “murderous thug” who’s “targeting civilians [and] committing war crimes” as his forces try to shatter Ukraine.

“Congress must stand united to demand [Putin] and his thug regime are brought to justice,” thundered Perry, a veteran, who played a “key role” in Trump’s abortive plot two years ago to oust his acting attorney general and replace him with one more sympathetic to Trump’s fact-free and debunked claims that the 2020 election had been stolen from him.

Perry isn’t alone, of course.

Other Republicans, apparently immune to the epic cognitive dissonance it takes to simultaneously condemn Russia and stand in solidarity with Ukraine, even as they retain membership in a political party that dismisses the sacking of the Capitol as an exercise in “legitimate political discourse,”  also are bravely and unironically stepping into the breach.

Take U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., for instance.

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During a recent appearance on Fox & Friends, the chamber’s top Republican criticized President Joe Biden for dragging his feet on providing military assistance to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government, according to Rolling Stone.

“The challenge that we have is, it’s the actions that we could have done before from this administration to make sure today wasn’t happening,” McCarthy told the network, according to Rolling Stone. “We could have supplied the weapons to Ukraine. They’re not asking for American troops, they’re just asking for the ability to fight.”

McCarthy also noted that Ukraine has been “outgunned” by Russia and said that “we could have deterred this from ever happening,” Rolling Stone reported.

McCarthy had no such reservations, however, about Trump, as journalist Aaron Rupar notes. The GOP House leader, who’s been working diligently to purge his conference of all Trump apostates “staunchly opposed Trump’s impeachment for using military aide [sic] to extort Ukraine,” Rupar recently observed on Twitter.

It’s safe to say that the Republicans who embraced Trump, and looked the other way at his warm embrace of the “murderous thug” in Moscow whose regime meddled in the 2016 elections, now face a credibility gap as wide as the Volga River they race to get on the right side of history.

And it’ll take some doing. In a Fox News poll released last month, prior to the Russian invasion, more Republicans had a negative view of Biden than they did of Putin, The Guardian reported. And if their current contortions weren’t so reality-beggaring, they might almost be amusing.

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“It’s clear there is bipartisan consensus in the House and Senate to support Ukraine with weapons and impose even tougher sanctions on Putin,” Perry’s fellow Pennsylvania Republican, U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser, of northern Pennsylvania’s 9th District, wrote on Twitter after joining a bipartisan call with Zelenskyy last weekend.

Now rewind a year.

Hours after the murderous horde stormed the Capitol in January 2021,  Meuser still joined with seven of his home state GOP colleagues to object to Pennsylvania’s election results. And, just like his Republican colleagues who all won re-election under the same ground rules, Meuser did not step up to contest the legitimacy of his own contest.

Some attempted violent overthrows of democratically elected governments just hit differently, it seems.

Despite his own sagging poll numbers, Biden got a small bounce from his State of the Union address, which prominently featured tough talk on Russia and ardent support for Ukraine. Voters narrowly approve of Biden’s management of the growing crisis, 46-42 percent, in a recent Politico/Morning Consult poll.

That might not be enough to save Biden and his fellow Democrats as they try to hang onto the House and Senate this fall. But they can spend every minute between now and November reminding voters that, when it counted, the congressional GOP was missing in action when it was their turn to defend democracy at home.

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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press.

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