Many in the Republican Party have either (i) held their noses and supported Donald Trump out of (A) fear of retribution from Trump's deranged supporters or (b) shameless self-promotion, and (ii) put their loyalty to the GOP ahead of the best interests of the country. Now, many are finding out that self-prostitution for whatever motivation can indeed carry a cost as many in the GOP seek ways to try to explain away Trump's bizarre fondness for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin or put distance between themselves and Trump's praise of Putin. A piece in The Guardian looks at the GOP tap dance to move away from Putin who is suspected of having had political opponents murdered and consorted with Russian Mafia types. Here are highlights:
One day after Donald Trump reiterated his admiration for Vladimir Putin, saying the Russian president was a better leader than Barack Obama, Republicans on Capitol Hill struggled to explain why their party’s presidential nominee was enamored with a man they have long cast as one of America’s primary foes.Many Republicans who returned to Washington this week after the summer recess expressed confidence that Trump was improving as a candidate in both tone and message. But on Thursday, they found themselves in the familiar routine of distancing themselves from Trump’s comments – the latest being his praise for Putin in an NBC News national security forum held on Wednesday.
“If you’re running for leader of the free world and you’re expressing admiration for Putin, well then you’re losing me,” Lindsey Graham, a senator from South Carolina and former Republican presidential candidate, told reporters.
“I think Vladimir Putin is a thug, a dictator, an autocratic ruler who has his opposition killed in the streets of Russia. He has dismembered his neighbor.”“This whole idea of admiring Putin is the biggest misunderstanding of a relationship in a person since Munich,” Graham said.
Marco Rubio, the senator from Florida who made his opposition to Putin a central tenet of his own presidential campaign, similarly disagreed with Trump’s assertion that the Russian president was a better leader than Obama.
“Look, I have tremendous policy disagreements with President Obama, but Vladimir Putin is an authoritarian thug who is accountable to no one,” Rubio told the Guardian.
“I don’t think what Vladimir Putin exhibits is leadership. I think what he exhibits is thuggery … and we should be clear-eyed about that,” he added, noting that Putin controlled the media, the military and often his political opponents were either imprisoned or found dead.
While Trump’s habit of making pro-Russia statements is not new, his refusal to adopt the GOP’s hard line against Putin has become a source of discomfort for Republicans.
But Trump, since becoming the nominee, has both continued to extol Putin’s leadership and even called on the Russian government in July to hack Clinton’s emails. While drafting the GOP platform at the Republican national convention in Cleveland, the Trump campaign also fought to eliminate language around arming Ukraine in its fight with Russia – bringing further scrutiny to the ties between Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager at the time, and pro-Russian interests. (Manafort was let go from the campaign last month.)
The paradox was palpable as many approached in the hallways of the Senate declined to address Trump’s latest string of pro-Putin comments.
Earlier in the day, the House speaker, Paul Ryan, faced several questions pertaining to Trump’s appearance at the foreign policy town hall. The nation’s top Republican dubbed Putin as “an aggressor who does not share our interests” and suggested Russia was behind state-sponsored cyber-attacks “on what appears to be [the US] political system”. But Ryan, too, reached his limit while fielding repeated queries about Trump. “I’m not going to stand up here and do a tit-for-tat on what Donald said last night,” he said.
When looks at those like Paul Ryan and others in the GOP endorsing Trump, the take away is that the nastiest whore has more integrity and moral backbone than most of today's GOP. If nothing else, the whore is honest in comparison.