With Ukraine War, Republicans find religion on democracy

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Rep. Scott Perry (R., Pa.), 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 denounced Russian strongman Vladimir Putin as a “murderous thug” who’s “targeting civilians [and] committing war crimes” as his forces try to shatter the eastern European nation.

“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 House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

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.

“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. “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.”

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. And if their current contortions weren’t so reality-beggaring, they might almost be amusing.

“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, Rep. Dan Meuser, 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.

Copyright 2022 John L. Micek, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

An award-winning political journalist, John L. Micek is Editor-in-Chief of The Pennsylvania Capital-Star in Harrisburg, Pa. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @ByJohnLMicek.