Somewhere, what’s left of Ronald Reagan is spinning in his grave. “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall has been replaced by “Let Ukraine fend for itself”. How the hell did the party that bragged about defeating the Soviet Union become Russia’s number one cheerleader and Vladimir Putin’s personal fluffer? The Republican Party has already answered that question itself: money. They’ll do anything for money. And power, too, of course. One day, we’ll finally pull the camera all the way back on this jaw-dropping scene. We’ll learn something we should have known from the start. That’s because it always played out in public – right in our faces! The news media reported it even! But we refused to listen. From the moment Donald Trump took (and then violated) his oath of office, Vladimir Putin has maintained a controlling hand on American politics. And our political future.
This has never been about just Donald Trump. Yeah, he’s Putin’s bitch. But, so’s the rest of the GOP. They’re all Putin’s bitch.
The Party Of Putin
The Brookings Institute asked this question back in 2017 (except they posed it as a statement!): “How the GOP became the party of Putin“. The piece’s author – James Kirchick – wrote about his shock that: “…the Republican Party—which once stood for a muscular, moralistic approach to the world, and which helped bring down the Soviet Union—would become a willing accomplice of what the previous Republican presidential nominee rightly called our No. 1 geopolitical foe: Vladimir Putin’s Russia”. Kirchick had spent a few years already “following Russia’s cultivation of the American right”.
It started with Pat Buchanan. Buchanan asked “Is Vladimir Putin a paleoconservative?” To Buchanan’s delight, the answer was “yes!” By 2017 – when Kirchick wrote his piece – “an astonishing 49 percent of Republicans consider Russia an ally”. Those Republicans must have overlooked the fact that Putin was a career KGB officer. As the Soviet Union split apart, Putin leveraged his job running the GRU (the KGB’s successor) into replacing Boris Yeltsin as Russia’s president. Take this to the bank: Putin’s spymaster gig had everything to do with how he became president.
Since 2013, Kirchick pointed out, “Russia has been targeting America’s right”. That year, Putin enacted a law targeting pro-gay rights – in line with Republicans targeting pro-gay rights. Putin extolled Russia’s “traditional values” and assailed “the West’s ‘genderless and infertile liberalism’.”
Gosh, Vlad sounds a lot like Mike Johnson, the new Republican Speaker Of The House. Or does Mike sound a lot like Vlad?
Maria Butina And The NRA
In 2015, Kirchick reminds us, Russia hosted a delegation from the NRA. There are no individual gun rights in Russia and there won’t be any time soon. Russia’s brilliant undercover agent Maria Butina (I mean “brilliant” sincerely) penetrated the NRA and the GOP itself.
Take this to the bank, too: lots of Russian money flowed through this pipeline – from Russia to the NRA to who knows where in the GOP’s moneyscape.
Kirchick also noted that Politico had revealed “how Russian intelligence services have been using the internet and social networks to target another redoubt of American conservatism: the military community”.
Fox News (and in particular its most popular star, Sean Hannity), Kirchick points out had begun “retailing Russian disinformation”. Tucker Carlson regularly used his time slot to “ridicule the entire Russian meddling scandal and portray Putin critics as bloodthirsty warmongers”.
Ripe For Manipulation
How did “the party of Ronald Reagan’s moral clarity morph into that of Donald Trump’s moral vacuity?” Kirchick believes that Russia’s intelligence operatives made a “keen study of the American political scene” and saw how, during Obama’s presidency, the conservative movement became “ripe for manipulation”. “What was left was an intellectually and morally desiccated carcass populated by con artists, opportunists, entertainers and grifters operating massively profitable book publishers, radio empires, websites, and a TV network whose stock-in-trade are not ideas but resentments.”
Alas, that very astute, very accurate depiction of the GOP has only worsened.
Another good example of Putin compromising and corrupting the Republican Party is Dana Rohrbacher.
Rohrbacher was part of the Reagan “Revolution”. Hell, Rohrbacher helped create it! But then, somehow, this steadfast cold warrior became “Putin’s favorite Congressman“. Kompromat will do that. The thing is, the entire GOP knew Dana Rohrbacher sat squarely in Putin’s pocket. As of 2016, nobody disputed that fact.
“Putin Pays Rohrbacher And Trump”
Jump to June 25, 2016. Former Speaker Of The House Kevin McCarthy exits a meeting where he learns (from our intelligence community) that Putin is working feverishly to undermine Ukraine’s fledgling democracy. McCarthy then enters another meeting, this one of GOP leaders. For the record, the meeting was recorded. The first thing McCarthy said was “There’s two people I think Putin pays – Rohrbacher and Trump – swear to God!“
Per the Washington Post’s (then) reporter Adam Entous (writing almost a year later in May 2017 after hearing the above recording), no one in the room contradicted McCarthy. No one questioned him either. There was nervous laughter – that’s what prompted McCarthy to add, “Swear to God!”
Everyone knew Putin owned Rohrbacher. Now it was on the table that Putin owned Donald Trump, too.
Nobody – among the Republican leadership either questioned the fact or felt troubled by it – except that it posed a problem. That’s why then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan stepped forward and insisted they all keep this terrible secret a secret. “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”
No leaks About the fact that the GOP’s about-to-be presidential nominee was owned by a hostile foreign leader? Say, what kinda family is this anyway?
From that point forward, Republicans did everything they could to hinder any investigation whatsoever into Trump’s relationship with Russia and Putin. Even when presented with solid evidence that Russia was actively engaged in trying to make Trump POTUS, Republican leaders refused to let that treasonous cat out of the bag.
Mitch McConnell, Putin’s Bitch
In October 2016, Obama called an urgent meeting of the “Gang Of Eight” at the White House. There, the intelligence community spelled it all out. Obama wanted to tell We The People the stone cold truth about Russia and Trump. Mitch McConnell refused to let him do it. He threatened Obama that, if Obama did tell America the truth about Trump, he, McConnell, would insist that Obama was just politicizing the intelligence.
Winning elections is one thing. Doing it while committing treason is something else entirely.
The GOP didn’t just recently start being Putin’s bitch. Clearly, even by the time they nominated Trump, they’d already gotten pretty good at it.
A month after agreeing that “Putin paid Trump”, the GOP nominated him. The next day, Trump got up on his hind legs and brayed “Russia, if you’re listening…!” Everyone in the Republican Party’s leadership knew for a fact that indeed, Putin was listening.
They knew it in a way that only Putin’s bitch could.