I can think of four possible reasons these petty people insulted a foreign leader whose budding democracy is under an existential threat from a brutal, thug-dictator:
- Lingering anger that Zelenskyy foiled disgraced President Trump’s 2019 attempt to coerce the Ukrainian president into digging up dirt on Joe Biden, whom Trump correctly feared would be his most formidable opponent in the 2020 election. Trump threatened to illegally withhold (and for a time did) much-needed military assistance from Ukraine despite its having been approved by Congress, unless Zelenskyy did his bidding. This led to Trump’s first impeachment.
- Belief in Trump’s lie that it was Ukraine that meddled in the 2016 election in order to help Hillary Clinton, as opposed to Russia, whose intervention helped push Trump to victory. There is, of course, zero evidence that Ukraine had any involvement in the election, whereas there is a mountain of evidence that Russia went all-out to assist Trump (see, e.g., the Mueller Report).
- Admiration for Vladimir Putin in line with Trump’s adulation of the Russian autocrat and envy at his ability to reign over his country unfettered by annoying restraints like the Constitution and the rule of law.
- Anti-Semitism. After all, President Zelenskyy is Jewish (a stunning development given Ukraine’s dark, anti-Semitic past), and a significant chunk of the MAGAverse, including its most zealous acolytes such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Jewish space laser renown (she claimed they caused California forest fires), who share Trump’s anti-Semitic views. These folks are doubly aggravated that Ukraine’s Prime Minister is also a Jew.
Further Ukraine aid is in for a rough ride. Regardless of their reasons, the Ukraine-hating, Russia-loving Republican caucus is bound to make it difficult to continue to support Ukraine with arms and dollars once the calendar changes and they control the House of Representatives. Kevin McCarthy, who has sold what little remains of his soul to the extreme demands of the Freedom Caucus in his obsessive quest to become the first invertebrate Speaker, has already said that Ukraine will no longer receive a blank check once he is in command.
Fortunately, Senate Republicans, with the exception of the likes of Paul, Hawley, Lee and a handful of others, firmly support aiding Ukraine. For assistance to this heroic democracy to continue, it will take at least five House Republicans to break with their radical, pro-Russia colleagues and do the right thing.
Eighty-one years ago, almost to the day, Winston Churchill braved packs of German U-boats to come to the U.S. to thank us for assisting Great Britain in its existential battle against the forces of evil and to seal the wartime alliance between our two nations. When he spoke to a joint session of Congress, every member was present and mightily respectful of the Prime Minister. History did not repeat itself this time, thanks in large part to the nastiness of the Republican minnows who could not rise to the occasion, fueled once again by right-wing media hacks like Tucker Carlson, who raged against aiding Ukraine and mocked Zelenskyy’s wardrobe while running a chyron proclaiming another blatant lie: "ZELENSKY HAS DECLARED WAR ON CHRISTIANITY."
December 24, 2022