by Brian Robertson
The Stupid Party strikes again.
Just one short month ago, Republican leaders and strategists were salivating over the prospect of a GOP blowout in the approaching midterms, as Joe Biden lurched from disaster to disaster. The debacle of our withdrawal from Afghanistan, raging inflation, an uncontrolled invasion at the southern border, crushing vaccine and mask mandates, and the utter failure to control COVID as promised all contributed to an apparent death spiral in the polls for Biden. With even mainstream media outlets acknowledging that the president’s polling numbers had rapidly cratered to unprecedented lows (with no bottom in sight) only one year into a new administration, it appeared that all Republicans needed to do to win big in November was to stay out of the way while the Democrats self-destructed.
But one can never underestimate the insularity and obtuseness of the Washington GOP establishment, whose sensitivity is exclusively attuned to the interests of their donor class rather than to the interests of their voting base, or even the national interest.
It’s become rather standard in conservative commentary to deride Republicans who “betray conservative principles” on some issue or other as RINOs (Republicans In Name Only). That term of opprobrium fails to capture the reality, which is that fealty to the interests of the Washington Uniparty (otherwise known as the Party of Davos and the War Party) is actually the norm rather than the exception among Republican officeholders, especially for those in positions of leadership. When the Democratic Party and corporate media change the narrative, they simply can’t seem to resist—following along like lemmings.
In retrospect, the administration’s desperate attempt to shift the narrative clearly began on January 6, when U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman ordered the accelerated release of an estimated 450,000 pages of Pfizer documents regarding the COVID vaccine trials they had conducted prior to preliminary FDA emergency use authorization of the vaccine in December 2020.
Soon after, attorney Thomas Renz dropped a bombshell in congressional testimony that was completely ignored by the corporate media: Data sets recently provided to him by three Department of Defense whistleblowers showed astronomical increases in serious heart issues, nervous system disorders, cancers, infertility, and other grave health issues among military personnel (who are subject to strict vaccine mandates) in 2021 when compared to the average for the five previous years. When Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) followed up with a formal inquiry to the Defense Department, the Pentagon rescinded the data and claimed that the apparent spikes in serious health issues were due to clerical errors.
Simultaneous with these ominous developments, Dr. Anthony Fauci, omnipresent in all the major media outlets for the last two years as official mouthpiece on all things COVID, began withdrawing from public view. His public schedule advertising upcoming media appearances suddenly disappeared from the website of the National Institutes of Health. Mask mandates, and even vaccine mandates, were quietly withdrawn by many states in a seeming coordinated effort, many clearly unrelated to current rates of COVID infection at the state and local level.
Some speculated that the rollbacks of state mandates were the result of disastrous internal polling data Democratic consultants were seeing confirming the unpopularity of those policies. But there was clearly more to it than that.
The coordinated effort to downplay COVID emergency messaging (while quietly renewing the public health emergency and the related “emergency powers” on January 14) was concurrent with an orchestrated ratcheting up of rhetoric about the looming Russian threat to Ukraine. As Vladimir Putin amassed forces on the Ukrainian border in reaction to an escalation of demands that Ukraine should be made part of the NATO alliance, the Biden Administration sent Vice President Kamala Harris to Europe to explain the U.S. position and ostensibly to de-escalate tensions. Harris took the opportunity to egg on Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s provocative demands for NATO membership, demands that Putin had long insisted were intolerable from Russia’s perspective. As her audience at the Munich Security Conference listened slack-jawed, the vice president declared, “I appreciate and admire President Zelenskyy’s desire to join NATO.” With any chance at de-escalation scuttled, Putin invaded less than a week later. This appeared to be the desired outcome.
Instead of seeing the trap and calling out Biden for failing to avert an entirely predictable military confrontation with a major nuclear power by means of wise diplomacy, Republicans seem determined to demonstrate even greater recklessness in escalating a conflict that could only have the severest of detrimental consequences for both their constituents and for the United States geostrategically.
The problem, apparently, was not the imprudent egging on of the confrontational behavior of a client state created by the color-revolution coup orchestrated by the Obama Administration in 2014. Rather, it was that the Biden Administration was not escalating the conflict quickly enough. Calls for declaring a “no-fly zone” (a.k.a. declaring an air war against Russia), assassinating Putin, and destroying the Russian economy grew in intensity, and these critiques driving the Biden Administration into a more confrontational stance were coming primarily from the Republican side of the aisle.
Given a blank check by their ostensible political opposition to turn the page from their own domestic disasters and to demonize Putin and Russia as the source not only of a potentially catastrophic military conflict abroad but also soaring prices at home, the White House wasted no time in pivoting to the “blame Putin” theme. When confronted with uncomfortable questions about energy prices going through the roof, however ludicrous the explanation was to anyone paying attention over the last 15 months of runaway federal spending and massive expansion of the money supply by the Federal Reserve, the mantra is that we should blame Putin. “I can’t do much at the moment,” Biden responded to a reporter’s question on soaring prices at the pump just two weeks after Putin’s Ukraine invasion. “Russia is responsible.”
Their bellicose stance ensured that Republicans were not in a position (even if they had the inclination) to push back against that ridiculous narrative. Given their complicity in both the unprecedented deficit spending of the last year and their crucial role in pushing the administration further in the direction of an all-out economic and military conflict with Russia, ostensibly aimed at toppling Putin from power, how could Republicans call him out for goading Russia now?
Evidently, the political temptation to engage in moral posturing by criticizing Biden for not doing enough to support the beleaguered Ukrainians (whose plight was being depicted around the clock, with lockstep messaging, by the corporate news outlets) overpowered any inclination to weigh in on the side of caution and hard-headed national interest. In the process, they managed to ignore the guaranteed devastating economic consequences for the United States and for their constituents that would surely result from the measures they were advocating.
Severing the Russian government (and the Russian population) from the global banking system would, of course, result in the Russians turning to China’s financial institutions. A U.S. ban on Russian oil and gas would, of course, accelerate the skyrocketing prices at the pump for American consumers, while doing nothing to restrict Putin’s ability to sell his oil elsewhere since oil and gas is a competitive world market. Various other sanctions would hurt the Russian people, but do nothing to harm Putin’s regime or defund a military adventure bankrolled by oil income. (Indeed, as the perception has grown that the U.S. government is targeting the Russian people for punishment, Putin’s popularity at home has only grown.)
Russia certainly has enough market leverage to take countermeasures, as they demonstrated with the recently announced embargo on fertilizer sales to the United States—which will throw fuel on the fire of exploding food prices. But the fact that such measures would inflict a much greater degree of harm on consumers here at home than they would on the Putin regime was less important to the Republican saber rattlers than exploiting another opportunity to play Winston Churchill and, absurdly, call Biden out as a Putin appeaser.
The fact is that the consistent Republican support since the State Department-sponsored coup in 2014 for heavily arming and goading on the provocative behavior of the client Zelenskyy regime (particularly in threatening Russian dominance of Crimea) meant they were hardly in a position to counsel prudence and de-escalation in the name of America’s vital national interests when the inevitable crisis came. And indeed, most Republican members, up to and including those in leadership, have been far more belligerent than Democrats in their calls for escalation, with over 40 GOP Senators signing on serial draft dodger Mitt Romney’s letter insisting that the Biden Administration send MiG fighter jets to the Ukrainians to fight a surrogate air war with the Russians.
It’s quite telling that, with a handful of exceptions, Republicans closely identified with the America First movement, including Senators Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and John Kennedy (R-La.), have joined the swelling chorus of voices calling for escalation and more robust support of the sainted Zelenskyy, a George Soros disciple deeply committed to the entire woke internationalist agenda. The ironies are innumerable.
Insisting on the priority of maintaining the sacred borders of a leftist, internationalist regime in Eastern Europe that has notoriously served as a piggy bank for the corrupt Biden family and the Clinton Foundation over the past decade would not appear to be high on the agenda for anyone placing America’s interests first.
For politicians who have long questioned the wisdom of ignoring America’s problems at home while spending America’s blood and treasure on failed regime-change strategies in the Middle East to suddenly regard regime change as a viable approach with nuclear-armed Russia is rather astounding. For them to prioritize military aid to Ukraine to the extent that they rush passage of a ruinous $1.3 billion deficit spending bill in the middle of the night because of the purported urgency of coming to the to aid of “democracy” (in the form of one of the most corrupt governments in the world) boggles the mind. For them to do so in the midst of an uncontrolled invasion of the United States at our southern border, orchestrated by the party in power in order to supplant their domestic political opponents (i.e., Republican voters) betrays a death wish.
The chickens are already coming home to roost for the American people as a result of the War Party’s crazed crusade for regime change in Russia. Consumers are already feeling the pinch at the pump and at the grocery store, and sanctions against Russia just poured fuel on that already blazing fire. The longer-term geostrategic consequences of such a shortsighted policy are even worse, and are beginning to play out in the form of a solidifying Sino-Russian alliance against the United States. Major players like Saudi Arabia and India are already cutting deals with Beijing that portend the impending death of the Petrodollar.
If Americans are already feeling considerable pain now as the result of Washington’s hyperinflationary policies, just wait until they find out that their relative affluence in the post-industrial United States was almost entirely based on the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency. It is almost baked in at this point that things will get exceedingly ugly for ordinary Americans before the end of the year. We will be lucky to avoid food shortages and civil unrest the likes of which have not been seen since the Great Depression
Already, Biden seems to have arrested his free fall in the polls, with relatively high marks on his handling of the Ukraine crisis (thanks largely to corporate media and GOP saber rattling that make him look prudent by contrast). And what, exactly, will Republicans say about the deteriorating, and perhaps grave, economic situation come the midterms in November? At this juncture, they can hardly pin the blame entirely on Biden for this dramatic shift in our nation’s economic fortunes. Try as they might to evade responsibility, the Biden economy has now inevitably become the Ukraine war economy. And this time, it will be impossible to blame only Biden and the so-called “RINOs” for the outcome, when so many of those who habitually employ that condemnatory phrase have themselves been eager collaborators.
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Brian Robertson is a writer living in Maryland.
Photo “Congressional Ceremony” by Senate Democrats CC BY 2.0.