Zelensky's Heartbreaking Plea
"I wish you to be the leader of the world."
“He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.” — Edward R. Murrow on Winston Churchill (borrowed by John F. Kennedy without attribution).
Here’s Murrow’s full quote:
“Now the hour had come for him to mobilize the English language, and send it into battle, a spearhead of hope for Britain and the world…. It sustained. It lifted the hearts of an island of people when they stood alone.”
I was reminded of Murrow’s description as I thought about Volodymyr Zelensky’s address to Congress this morning, a speech that follows a string of remarkable appearances in which the Ukrainian president has mobilized several languages — as well as the power of social media and video — to defend his country.
On Tuesday, he used an address to the Canadian parliament to throw some shade on Western allies who say they are “deeply concerned,” but refuse to give Ukraine the support it needs:
“I want you to feel what it's like when you call your friends and say: ‘Close the sky, stop the shelling. No matter which way, just do it. Stop the bombing. How many more missiles must fall on our cities?’ And in response, you hear that someone does not want to do it ... But they are deeply concerned!”
“‘Then give us planes,’ we tell our partners. They answer: ‘Soon. Be patient a little.’ Everyone is deeply concerned. They just don't want to.”
If anything, his remarks to Congress this morning were even more pointed.
“Remember Pearl Harbor,” Zelensky said.. “Remember Sept. 11. …. Our country experiences the same every day. Right now.
“Every night now. Russia has turned the Ukrainian sky into a source of death of thousands of people."…
“I have a dream. These words are known to each of you today. I can say, I have a need. I need to protect our sky. I need your decision, your help, which means exactly the same. The same you feel when you hear, I have a dream.”…
“If this [a no-fly zone] is too much to ask, we offer an alternative. We know what kind of defense systems we need. S-300 and other similar systems.”…
“It is true, in the darkest time for our country, for the whole Europe, I call to you to do more. New packages of sanctions are necessary every week until the Russian military machine stops.”..
"I'm nearly 45. But today my age stopped when the hearts of 100 children stopped. I see no sense in life if it cannot stop death...
And he appealed directly to Biden:
"I am addressing President Biden, you are the leader of the nation, of your great nation.
“I wish you to be the leader of the world.
“Being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace"
He also showed a video… and Oh man.
Here how it looked to members of Congress — WATCH:
Although he is unlikely to immediately get the air cover he has been asking for, Zelensky won’t walk away empty-handed. The NYT reports:
President Biden plans to announce an additional $800 million in security assistance to Ukraine on Wednesday, according to White House officials…
ICYMI: This conversation with the New Yorker’s Susan Glasser is very much worth your time.
Is Trump About to Faceplant?
Josh Kraushaar, writing in the National Journal: “Trump staring at resounding rejection in GOP primaries.”
Former President Trump is staring at a real chance that his endorsed candidates go zero-for-three in competitive Senate primaries in May, an outcome that would underscore his already mixed record in primaries and raise serious questions about the depth of his political clout within the Republican Party.
Trump’s undisciplined political strategy, seeking to punish any candidate he deems disloyal, faces a wall of resistance in the South, one of the most pro-Trump regions of the country during his presidency.
From North Carolina to Alabama, Senate candidates are failing to capitalize on the Trump seal of approval. Former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has weathered millions in outside attacks from the Trump-allied Club for Growth and leads Trump-endorsed Rep. Ted Budd in several publicly released polls. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp now leads former Sen. David Perdue by double digits in multiple polls, while holding a significant financial advantage down the home stretch. Trump-endorsed Rep. Mo Brooks has underperformed so badly in Alabama’s Senate race that the former president is reportedly considering endorsing one of his leading rivals. All these primaries will be taking place in May.
BONUS: “George Conway: Claiming to Be ‘Completely Insane and Stupid’ May Be Trump’s Best Defense.”
Back to No, Again.
Some of you may recall Charles C.W. Cookes’s “Trump Maybe” piece in National Review back in 2020.
Donald Trump? In 2024? Why on earth would conservatives choose that guy?
I’m serious: Why? Why would we do that when we have a choice? The idea should be absurd, risible, farcical, outré. It should be a punchline, a mania, the preserve of the demented fringe. Politics matters. And because politics matters, it is a bad idea to allow politics to be held hostage by someone who, in his heart of hearts, doesn’t really care. Donald Trump is an extraordinarily selfish man, and he is only too happy to subordinate your interests to his own. Why let him? It is one thing to say, “Well, he may have been a fickle boor, but I liked some of what he did once he was in office”; it’s quite another to put yourself through four more years of the man when you don’t have to.
Whatever justification there may have been for picking the “lesser of two evils” in the 2016 or 2020 general election — a justification that was a great deal stronger before Trump refused to accept, and then tried to overturn, the results of the latter — it cannot obtain in 2022….
The man lost. He’s a loser. It’s time we picked a winner for a change.
Red Flags on the Economy
Josh Barro warns that Democrats shouldn’t count on a rising economy to bail them out.
Late last year, I said there was reason to think Democrats' performance in the midterm elections might not be as weak as polls (and November 2021 election results) seemed to presage: The public was unhappy about COVID and the economy, but fundamentals relating both of those matters were likely to improve by the midterms, with lower inflation and less disruption to daily life.
Well, I no longer think fundamentals are likely to improve materially between now and the election.
Catherine Rampell delivers a similar message.
“Just as it seemed as though the global economy and its tangled supply chains could be getting back to normal,” she writes, “ three factors might supercharge inflation and/or raise the risk of recession.”
The three factors?
“The first of the three developed in just the past few days: a new covid wave in China that has already led to major lockdowns and will further stress the world’s struggling supply chains…”
“Shock No. 2: the disruptions in commodity markets, including oil, resulting from Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine….”
“Finally, there’s the third risk: tightening financial conditions, thanks to the Federal Reserve.”
There’s never a good time for a downturn. But given all the other suffering and loss of life over the past few years, it’s hard to imagine a worse time than the present.
What happens here, it will be worse in Russia:
JVL made a great point yesterday. Instead of cushioning the blow to his economy, Putin is making its prospects materially worse.
But here is a thing Putin would absolutely not do if he wanted to rescue the Russian economy: Start nationalizing foreign property.Putin signed a law today that will make it possible for Russia to nationalize the 500+ airplanes that Western leasing companies have demanded to be returned to them. The planes are worth more than USD 10 billion. This is how doing business with Russia often ends. In theft.
Sanctions are like a valve. You turn them on; you turn them off.
But once you blow up the rule of law to such a degree that foreign capital realizes that they’d be insane to invest anything in your economy because you might just steal it?
You can’t come back from that by saying the right words. This is the kind of action that takes years to unwind.
Meanwhile, Back in Wisconsin
Dave Weigel looks at the latest Cheesehead Madness.
In just the last four weeks, a state legislator who believes the election can be decertified has jumped into the race for governor; former lieutenant governor Rebecca Kleefisch (R), who has led in polls of that primary, would not say if she would have certified the 2020 election; and a Vos-appointed special counsel told the legislature that it “ought to take a very hard look” at decertifying President Biden’s 10 electoral votes in the state.
“They are leapfrogging over each other to get the far, far right,” Wisconsin's Gov. Tony Evers (D) said in an interview. “They may want to forget about that, when whoever wins the primary runs against me. But we won't let them forget about that.”
In other states, especially after the filibuster-assisted death of federal voting rights legislation, Democrats have been wary about focusing on election issues at the expense of inflation, gas prices or Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
But in the states where the presidential election was closest, where the Trump campaign and conservative groups went to court to stop Biden’s victory, the topic is inescapable. Evers has made “democracy” one of the pillars of his reelection campaign, running as a bulwark against Republican election reform plans that would ban drop boxes, restrict absentee voting and abolish the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission — created by Republicans seven years ago.
1. Two Years of Covidiocy
In today’s Bulwark, Cathy Young writes about how the pandemic became part of the culture wars and brought out the dumb in our polarized politics.
Almost from the very beginning, responses to COVID-19 in the United States were (like everything else these days) polarized along political lines. Being Team Blue meant that you saw COVID as a very serious threat and supported drastic measures to contain and mitigate its spread. Being Team Red meant that you thought COVID wasn’t that big a deal and that its danger was being overhyped by safety freaks, people who wanted to give the government extraordinary powers, and Democrats who wanted to weaponize the pandemic to bring down Donald Trump. Obviously, not everyone fell neatly into those categories; but the tendency was undeniable.
Here at The Bulwark in April 2020, Gabriel Schoenfeld documented the sorry record of people on the right—not just Fox News carnival barkers like Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, but such soi-disant intellectuals as Roger Kimball and Heather MacDonald—minimizing the pandemic and mocking those who took it seriously. Kimball performed a particularly spectacular self-beclowning in a March 14, 2020 American Greatness column in which he mocked the idea of an emergency and sneered that “a total of 60 people—60!—have died from the scourge of the Wuhan virus. . . . This really is a pandemic akin to the Black Death.” He confidently predicted that, while widespread testing might uncover more cases, “What won’t go up much is the number of fatalities.”
2. Blaming America for Russian Aggression, Then and Now
Niranjan Shankar writes in today’s Bulwark that during the Cold War, just as today, some commentators held the U.S. accountable for Russian belligerence in Eastern Europe.
Attempts to pin the hostilities on NATO enlargement are remarkably similar to the arguments of twentieth-century “New Left” intellectuals who held the United States primarily responsible for the onset of the Cold War. Washington’s failure to accommodate the Soviet Union’s “legitimate” and “defensive” security needs in Europe and Asia after World War II, the narrative went, forced Stalin to consolidate his hold on Eastern Europe through ruthless communization and Sovietization. This view was not just limited to anti-war activists of the Vietnam era—it was perpetuated by a sizable body of influential “revisionist” scholars.
3. A neo-conservative moment?
Deterrence is what America lost in the years before Vladimir Putin took the gamble of going into Ukraine, and it is deterrence we need to restore. That is why this is a neoneoconservative moment.
And one of the reasons Twain was right about history not repeating itself but rhyming instead is that the key foes the neoconservatives face when it comes to the moral frame of deterrence—the idea that America is and should be a force for good—are no longer hip liberals but rather “traditional conservatives” who have taken their place as the leading anti-American voices of our time.
And we will prevail over these anti-Americans just as the neocons of the 1970s defeated the cognoscenti of their day, because our approach is right and our cause is just.
Real Men of Genius Update.
Exactly the same, amirite?
Amazingly, I have no real critique of you today, Charlie. I simply have two things that stick out to me. The first being that the Dems need to fight the culture war; it's clear that the American character is one that will go to any length, and bear any burden, if they are incensed enough. The public is firmly behind Biden on Ukraine, but the Democrats seems strangely reluctant to actually give him credit. Beyond that, they seem strangely reluctant to call out obvious, unpopular bigotry like the Don't Say Gay law or that bill going through the Tennessee legislature that would allow family members of a rapist to sue the victim if she has an abortion. These are slam dunks that they just refuse to make. It's baffling and maddening.
The other thing is, and I can't believe I'm saying this but, I think Trump might not be crazy enough for the GOP anymore. He unleashed the crazy, but it's clear that he's not able to keep it together; he's entirely focused on his issues and his problems, and he doesn't care about anyone's else's, and that's a problem when you're trying to ride a wave of crazy. Take the vaccine thing. He's a germaphobe, a famous one, but his people are entirely hopped up on vaccine skepticism. He's talking windmills, they're talking biolabs. He's annoyed about voter fraud, they think there's a global conspiracy.
The problem of introducing unreality into the bloodstream of the conservative mind is that many voters have become so paranoid and addicted to the spin that they increasingly seek more and more ludicrous ideas that Trump simply can't keep up with. He's someone who can't come up with new material, and it shows. Beyond that, there are competing power centers, most notably from MTG and Boebert, who have clearly attached themselves to the real crazy people in the party. Meanwhile, Carlson et all have been beaming Q-Anon lite into the airwaves for their increasingly paranoid viewers.
Simply put, it's hard for Trump to claim he's restoring America when he lost and was unable to save it the first time. There are diehards of course. But he's simply not crazy enough for the people who have the most energy in the party, who are now losing their minds over the idea that Russia invading Ukraine is like immigration on the border, or the idea that Covid was a biolab made in Ukraine.
My hope is that this leads to the destruction of the Trumpist GOP, as they detach from reality. My fear is that they'll gain power anyway because of the first point I made.
My God...that video. The price Ukraine is paying on behalf of The West is staggering.