THE PLIGHT OF UKRAINE AND THE CONTINUING SHAME OF REPUBLICANS
(On Saturday, March 19 I spoke at a meeting of the Dorchester Country Democratic Party. Congressman Jim Clyburn was in attendance. He encouraged me to write up my talk and send it to him so that he might circulate it more widely. The result appears below as my latest posting for our blog.)
The moral bankruptcy of today's Republican party has become ever more clear as Vladimir Putin's horrifying war against Ukraine unfolds.
All but the most Russophile Tucker Carlson Republicans are now rightly praising the heroic leadership of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. What these Republicans hope the country forgets is their shameful support for President Donald Trump's "perfect" telephone call with Zelensky on July 25, 2019.
In that call Zelensky said Ukraine wanted to buy Javelin anti-tank missiles from the U.S. Trump's response, which led to his first impeachment, was: "I would like you to do us a favor, though." That "favor" was to work with Trump's personal fixer Rudy Giuliani to provide dirt on Presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. It was, as the impeachment inquiry clearly showed, an act of extortion.
This act, to which Republicans were and are complicit, signaled to Putin that the U.S. was not a reliable partner for Ukraine. Trump treated Zelensky as just another real estate or banking opponent across a bargaining table. Now Ukrainians are paying a terrible price. The same Republicans who are lionizing the heroic Zelensky STILL do not hold Trump responsible. Clearly they will follow Trump to the gates of Hell, which is where his impeachable behavior has led Ukraine.
Republican hypocrisy continued through March 10 of this year when the Senate passed a $1.5 trillion spending bill that had within it $13.6 billion in aid for Ukraine. Thirty-one Republican Senators voted against it, including our Senator Tim Scott. Then these same Senators, including Scott, turned around and criticized President Biden for not doing enough to help Ukraine defend itself.
This is the 21st century Republican strategy. Have it both ways. Block everything. Blame Democrats. Assume voters will forget.
Well, not this time, not this voter, and not the 2022 Democratic Party.
In 1948 President Harry Truman called the Republican-controlled 80th Congress the "Do Nothing Congress." We now have a Do Nothing Republican Party. Other than expand gun rights, limit a woman's right to control her own reproductive freedom, and cut taxes for the rich, Republicans can point to few legislative achievements in recent years.
They continue to support building a wasteful, ineffective Trump wall on the southern border as their solution to the "immigration problem." They refuse to work with Democrats on comprehensive immigration legislation the country desperately needs.
They continue to slander the popular Affordable Care Act while offering no alternatives or fixes. Republican governors, including Henry McMaster in South Carolina, even refuse federal support to expand their Medicaid programs.
They deny the current and future disastrous effects of climate change. They prefer to protect the profits of corporate donors whose fossil-fuel related industries will, if unchecked, eventually choke the planet.
They blocked any federal response to reforming police behavior in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. Senator Scott made a show of leading the Republican effort to provide solutions, but in the end Scott knuckled under to the sheriffs' lobby and refused to back any serious reforms. He walked away from the bill and did what Republicans always do: blame the Democrats.
They try their best to keep the pandemic alive as a wedge issue by opposing vaccine and mask mandates and by spreading medical disinformation.
Republicans are, collectively, a do-nothing, obstructionist, shape-shifting party of scoundrels.
Senator Scott and Representative Nancy Mace are prime examples of the Republican species.
Scott's legislative record, after nine years in the Senate, is an embarrassment. It should be a major campaign issue when he runs in 2022. His lone achievement, which he touts at the drop of a hat, is the "economic opportunity zone." As I have written in two earlier blog posts, this program is nothing but a capital gains tax shelter for the wealthy. It has produced little for the poor neighborhoods Scott claims to be helping. It's just another big lie.
Mace's strategy for re-election is to avoid every difficult issue for as long as she can. Her signal achievements are introducing legislation to protect animal rights (why not?) and to legalize marijuana (again, why not?). On the subject of Traitor Trump, she criticizes him for his insurrectionist behavior but then begs for his endorsement. Somewhere along the way she lost her Citadel spine.
Governor McMaster is no better. He has refused to expand Medicaid. He ducked all responsibility for managing the pandemic in South Carolina. He feuded with and ignored his own public health specialists.
Continuing a shameful tradition in South Carolina, he wants to provide public money to private schools and thereby starve public schools of funds. This is a game White politicians have been playing in South Carolina since Reconstruction.
McMaster's idea of transportation improvement is more roads. He seems never to have heard of mass transit, even as his state becomes more populous and dense.
He is a Governor content that his state ranks, according to U.S News and World Report, 34th in health care, 44th in education, 36th in infrastructure, and 46th in crime and corrections. He has been in public life long past his sell-by date.
What Democrats must emphasize from now until the November elections is that we are the party working to solve major problems. We are the party of compromise, if only we had a serious political party with which to compromise. We are the party protecting basic civil liberties, not the fake "freedoms" to carry concealed weapons and parade around unvaccinated.
Republicans are good for one thing only: duplicitous messaging. The title of former Senator Al Franken's book about Fox News works perfectly well for this Republican bunch: Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them.