The Pro-Putin Wing of the GOP
Plus: No, Democrats shouldn't take Black voters for granted
Thought for the Day: We are faced with an unstable, paranoid autocrat — consumed by delusions, dependent on lies and conspiracy theories, refusing to admit that he has been defeated —with his finger on the nuclear button.
But, thank God, we only have one, not two of them.
ICYMI, you should go back and re-read Mona Charen’s brilliant piece: “Thank God Trump Isn’t President Right Now.”
Let’s start with some good news before we get to less cheery tidings.
On yesterday’s podcast, Michael Weiss singled out this website as one of the most reliable sources of accurate information about what’s happening in Ukraine. This is what they reported last night: “Russia already lost, it just doesn’t know it yet.”
YaKiss 🇺🇦 @YaKiss7@oryxspioenkop At this rate, how sustainable is this? Guess it will depend on the distribution speed of the latest 800M military aid package to the fighting units, especially in Donbass, Kharkiv and Mykolaiev areas, if they get equipment quickly (days) the RU losses will go through the roof.
At the same time, there are signs of a crackup in the Kremlin. Here’s the former U.S. ambassador to Russia:
Andrei Soldatov @AndreiSoldatovNow it's official - Kommersant confirmed Gavrilov resigned (his detention is yet to be confirmed). Putin humiliated the director of the SVR, placed two FSB generals under house arrest and had Zolotov, the National Guard, to fire his deputy -- in the three weeks of the war. https://t.co/jG2c1KaBWR
The Chinese seem to reading the signs and adjusting accordingly.
Who speaks for the GOP now?
The GOP is experiencing some severe cognitive dissonance right now. Consider this mixed messaging: (and rank hypocrisy):
More than two dozen Senate Republicans are demanding that President Biden do more to aid war-torn Ukraine and arm its forces against Russia’s brutal assault, after voting last week against $13.6 billion in military and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine.
Perhaps the confusion reflects the shift in the GOP base, which continues to disapprove of most anything President Biden does, but wants a more robust response to the Russian invasion. Here are the latest Pew numbers:
Which brings us to this interesting moment in GOP politics.
Right now, the pro-Putin (or anti-anti-Putin) faction is clearly in the minority, but they continue to have out-sized influence, especially on Russian state TV, where they provide aid and comfort to the Kremlin.
As the Republican Accountability Project notes, “Only 5 percent of Republicans support Russia over Ukraine, but the MAGA wing of the GOP has continually sided with Putin and against Ukraine.” RAP has helpfully collected some of the MAGA commentary. It’s worth bookmarking.
“So Putin is now saying it’s independent, a large section of Ukraine. I said, ‘How smart is that?’ And he’s gonna go in and be a peacekeeper. That’s the strongest peace force.”
Fmr. President Donald Trump, February 2022 · Quote Source
“[Putin is] taking over a country for two dollars worth of sanctions. I’d say that’s pretty smart.”
Fmr. President Donald Trump, February 2022 · Quote Source
“Remember that Zelenskyy is a thug. Remember that the Ukrainian government is incredibly corrupt and it is incredibly evil and has been pushing woke ideologies.”
Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), March 2022 · Quote Source
“NATO has been supplying the neo-Nazis in Ukraine with powerful weapons and extensive training on how to use them. What the hell is going with these #NATONazis?”
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), March 2022 · Quote Source
“I think we should probably take the side of Russia, if we have to choose between Russia and Ukraine.”
Tucker Carlson, FOX News, December 2019 · Quote Source
“I gotta be honest with you, I don’t really care what happens to Ukraine one way or the other.”
J.D. Vance, US Senate Candidate, February 2022 · Quote Source
“Every American who wants to know what’s *actually* going on in Russia and Ukraine, read this transcript of Putin’s address…WE are at fault.”
Candace Owens, Daily Wire, February 2022 · Quote Source
“No Republican should vote for any money for Ukraine. $0 for Ukraine.”
Steve Bannon, March 2022 · Quote Source
“The Soviet Union back before Russia when it broke up contained all of Ukraine including Crimea. The country itself is not really a country”
Peter Navarro, Former Trump WH Advisor, December 2021 · Quote Source
“I’m more concerned with the US-Mexico border than the Russia-Ukraine border. Not sorry.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), January 2022 · Quote Source
“It feels as if Putin is going into places that want him. They have voted overwhelmingly to be part of it. It is a family dispute that we shouldn’t get in the midst of, that’s for certain.”
Charlie Kirk, Turning Point USA, February 2022 · Quote Source
“We had kind of a really pathetic display from the Ukrainian President Zelenskyy.”
Laura Ingraham, FOX News, February 2022 · Quote Source
“Putin–unlike someone else we know–LOVES his country & FIGHTS for its interests”
Dinesh D’Souza, [convicted felon] September 2016 · Quote Source
“[Putin is] a very strong leader. He’s been in charge for a long time. And he’s not going to put up with the nonsense he’s seeing in Europe.”
Mike Flynn, former Trump National Security Advisor, February 2022 · Quote Source
“Zelensky is a globalist puppet for Soros and the Clintons.”
State Sen. Wendy Rogers (R-AZ), February 2022 · Quote Source
“I wish Putin was president of America.”
Nick Fuentes, America First Political Action Conference, February 2022 · Quote Source
Add to this list: the eight (8) GOP representatives who voted yesterday against removing Most Favored Nation status from Russia and Belarus: Biggs (Ariz.) Bishop (N.C.) Boebert (Colo.) Gaetz (Fla.) Greene (Ga.) Grothman (Wis.) Massie (Ky.) Roy (Texas).
So how will all this play out? A few weeks ago, I wrote in Politico Magazine that “the Putin-is-a-savvy-genius wing of the party may be small at the moment, but as we have seen over and over, the MAGA voices are the Republican id these days.” And I predicted that Republican politicians would sooner or later fall in line.
But this is not inevitable. And I may be wrong here. (Bookmark this too.)
Dave Weigel highlights the shifting political landscape:
Republicans like [Liz] Cheney, increasingly marginalized in the party before the Ukraine crisis, have new math on their side. A Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday found that 75 percent of American adults wanted Washington to “do whatever it can to help Ukraine, without risking a direct war between the U.S. and Russia,” even while a majority of adults opposed creating a no-fly zone.
The split in the GOP has already begun to show up in red-on-red attacks in primary election campaigns. (And may have already killed J.D. Vance’s deplorable campaign.)
In North Carolina, where another Republican U.S. Senate primary is unfolding, former governor Pat McCrory began running ads last week that accused Rep. Ted Budd (R) of praising Russian President Vladimir Putin's intelligence “while Ukrainians bled and died” and attacked him for voting against a previous round of Russian sanctions.
All of this is merely prologue to the much more fundamental choice that Republicans will have to make. And this is not about Trump’s “mean tweets” or his “personality”.
Once again, the party faces a time for choosing: Will they continue to back their party’s most voluble Putin defender? Or will they stand with the rest of the world?
Who speaks for the GOP?
No, Dems should not take Black voters for granted
It has been widely noted that the Hispanic vote was relatively poor for the Democrats in 2020. But that wasn’t the Democrats’ only disappointment among nonwhite voters.
Democratic margins among black voters also declined by 7 points, though not by nearly as much as among Hispanics (16 points, Catalist two party vote).
Moreover, while absolute turnout for black voters was up, as it was for almost all groups in a very high turnout election, turnout did not go up as much for black voters as for other groups, so relative turnout fell.
Teixeira isn’t alone in sounding the alarm. Others have also noted the trends in recent elections:
[Even] before Biden took office, there was reason to believe that Democrats were poised for a gradual, long-term decline in Black support. In 2018 House races, Democrats actually won a smaller share of the African American vote than they had in the 2016 presidential election — even as the party’s overall popular-vote edge in the midterm was five points higher than Hillary Clinton’s two years earlier.
There’s a lot going on here. As David Shor notes, we are seeing the decline of the power of social institutions that have kept black voters in the Democratic column.
There are also a bundle of specific issues that could pose problems for Democrats. As Teixeira notes, recent polls as well as elections — in places like New York and Minneapolis — suggest “that Republican appeals on crime may find a considerably more receptive audience among black working class voters than most Democrats assume.”
And then there are the culture wars. Teixeira warns:
Other cultural issues may present problems. A new Politico/Morning Consult poll found plurality support among black voters for provisions in a Florida bill that banned the teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade and limited lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity after third grade to age-appropriate discussions.
This is a timely reminder that the great majority of blacks (71 percent according to Gallup) consider themselves moderate or conservative, not liberal.
None of this means, of course, that black voters will not very strongly support Democrats in this coming election and for some time to come. They likely will. But the solidity of that support cannot be assumed. It is susceptible to erosion, particularly among working class blacks, and we can see the signs of this already. The days of taking overwhelming, close to unanimous, support for Democrats among blacks for granted should be over.
1. Peter Thiel’s GOP Makeover
2. “What Must It Be Like for Children?”
Margaret McMullan writes in today’s Bulwark: Remember the orphans and refugees of Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine—and of wars past.
The effects of war on refugee children can last for generations—their lifetimes and their children’s. It took decades to parse the details of my mother’s childhood when she escaped Vienna in 1938.
After Hitler marched into Austria, my mother and her parents became refugees overnight. She was raised Catholic, but her father, a respected professor of history, was born Jewish. He converted to Catholicism in 1938, hoping to keep the family safe. They were not. Sharing one suitcase, they left secretly and separately at night, making their way by train first across Switzerland and then on to France. My mother was 10 years old.