Sixty-Two Percent

Having only a weekly column, it’s tempting to leave Trump/Putin/Ukraine to others. Pretty much everything that can be said has been and is still being said. On all sides. Including the only side Trump is on: his. Still fanning election lies; rewriting his history with Putin and Ukraine; pretending he’s the one who made NATO strong, who’s been “tough” on Putin. Right. By calling his invasion “very savvy” and “genius.” He can’t unsay that, nor can those who agreed or refused to condemn it. The forehead has no more slaps to give.

Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State, just said, on Fox “news,” of all places, she believed she’d never again see the unity among NATO members that there is now, thanks to President Biden. After Trump left it weakened and in disarray (though not as much as Putin had ordered).

Tempting. But since a recent poll had sixty-two percent of Americans believing Putin wouldn’t have invaded if Trump were still “president,” biting the tongue draws blood. Trump is strong, they say. Biden is weak. Which means truth and thought have lost the Foxotrumpian war on them. Equally sad and terrifying.

Perhaps some among those polled said it because they understand that if Trump were still in office, Putin wouldn’t have needed to invade. Having done so for four years, Trump would have continued to give Putin everything he wants; would have held the door while he Kazatsky-ed on in. And it’s more certain than heliocentrism that he wouldn’t have imposed the sanctions that President Biden has.

Strong? Can anyone other than the most lower-colonically self-inserted imagine Trump leading a country under siege with Volodymyr Zelensky’s bravery? He’d have faked another bone spur note and run to Bunker-a-Lago.

Weak? Short of deploying American troops, which worked out great in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, President Biden has done about everything possible, after getting all of Europe — even Switzerland and Sweden! — to buy into the unprecedented economic sanctions which have already left the ruble worthless and the Russian economy wobbling; and he has been and continues to send economic aid and military equipment to Ukraine, and troops to bolster NATO.

Is it enough? Who can yet say? But do we want a shooting war with Russia? Half a million troops for a mano-a-mano conflict? If we do, will Tucker and Sean sign up? If so, for which side? How about Cancun Ted Cruz? Fisting Josh Hawley? Would Lauren Boebert grab her campaign-prop AR and head there, too? Tough talk is easy. (We who served in Vietnam recall Trump’s five excuses fakery.)

My favorite political blogger, Charles P. Pierce, refers to the “prion disease” (think “mad cow”) that has infected the Republican party. It’s good for a chuckle; but is there a better explanation is there for the insanity that’s overtaken the formerly sane? Reliably deplorable, the cabal known as CPAC just had the usual Republican stars peddling hate and fear with barely an attempt at policy. Other than “Lock her up for real.” “They want to destroy you,” Ted Cruz screamed, to besotted cheers. Not a sniff of useful ideas.

Representatives Gosar and Taylor-Greene just spoke at a convention of white supremacists, which almost makes Republicans’ continued fealty to a lying former “president” who praises Russia while criticizing America seem quaint. Senators Cruz, Hawley, and Cotton grandstandingly and mendaciously attacked Biden judicial nominee Nina Morrison, because, as a lawyer for the Innocence Project, she got wrongly accused inmates freed. How can any Americans, especially conservatives, tolerate such awful people unless they’re infected, too?

In states where their lawmaking is unrestrained, the encephalopathic cruelty is even worse. In Texas, whose latest voter suppression laws are already disenfranchising thousands, governor Abbot launched an uninformed, intentionally cruel anti-transexual crusade. It’s a full Republican bingo card: anti-science, scape-goat seeking, base-riling, policy-distracting. Designating sexual reassignment surgery on anyone younger than eighteen as “child abuse,” requiring laypeople and doctors to inform on any young person expressing interest in transitioning, it will — like his Big-Brother abortion vigilantism — cause pain and, likely, death.

Meanwhile, as Putin readied his invasion, Steve Bannon praised him for and laughed about his LGBT malice.

How bereft of empathy, not to mention knowledge, must these people be? Derisive. Mocking. Anti-government professing, mask-tyranny crying, vaccine mandate railing. Yet, because it doesn’t affect them, enforcing government control of transgender youth; a deeply private, difficult issue. Which should only be between parents, children, and their doctors. Which affects 0.3% of the population. “Small government!” “Parental choice!” “Pro-family!” Why does Greg Abbott care? Why does he lie? Only to please an incurably prion-diseased party of democracy-fearing, sociopath-idolizing hypocrites. It’s infuriating.

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Sid Schwab

Retired surgeon. Published author. Blogger. Columnist. Losing hope that American democracy can survive Republican attempts to end it.