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Putin, a thorn in the side of the Republicans | War in Ukraine

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Even if so far a large majority of elected Republicans, including House Leader Kevin McCarthy, usually pro-Trump, have strongly condemned Russian military actions, Donald Trump has repeatedly professed his admiration for the spirit brilliant of Putin.

It’s genius, he said in an interview earlier last week. Putin declares much of Ukraine independent. He used the word “independent” and said that Russia would help keep the peace. You have to say it’s pretty nifty.

During CPAC’s annual conference in Florida, Donald Trump reiterated his admiration for Vladimir Putin

Photo: Getty Images/Joe Raedle

On Saturday evening, at the CPAC conference in Florida, a sort of annual festival of the American right, the ex-president even defended Putin’s label as clever. The problem is not that Putin is smart – he is of course smart – but the real problem is that our leaders are stupid.he said to applause.

The argument that has circulated a lot in the Trumpist ranks since the beginning of the Russian invasion may come as a surprise: Putin did not invade Ukraine under Trump. Which means he saw Trump as strong.

Which, according to some, is absurd. Under Trump, Putin didn’t have to invade. In fact, the Republican ex-president sought to drastically reduce the presence of American troops in theNorth Atlantic Treaty Organization and even intended to withdraw from the organization altogether in a possible second presidential term.

The Trumpist nebula

"Why should we support Ukraine and not Putin?"  said Tucker Carlson on his evening show last week

Tucker Carlson, star host of the Fox News network, from the start of the conflict, leaned more in favor of Russia than Ukraine

Photo: Getty Images / Janos Kummer

Tucker Carlson star network host FOX Newswhich attracts millions of viewers every evening, has repeatedly questioned the need for American involvement in this conflict.

Why should we support Ukraine and not Putin? Has Putin ever called me a racist? Did he threaten to get me fired for disagreeing with him? Did he send all the middle class jobs from my town to Russia? Did he fabricate a global pandemic that destroyed my business and kept me indoors for two years? Does it teach my children to accept racial discrimination? Is he trying to stifle Christianity? No !

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A rhetoric that has something to surprise many observers. As the Russians advanced in their offensive the next day, Carlson more or less moderated his remarks, condemning the atrocities of that war.

For her part, Candace Owen, a conservative commentator, even echoed Putin’s own words, explaining that theNorth Atlantic Treaty Organization violated previous agreements by not guaranteeing that the organization would welcome Eastern European countries. We are wrongshe tweeted a few days ago.

JD Vance, a populist Republican candidate from Ohio who wants to run for a Senate seat was quick to say: I don’t really care what’s going on in Ukraine, I’m sick of Joe Biden who cares about the Ukrainian border”,”text”:”Honestly, I don’t really care of what is happening in Ukraine, I’m tired of Joe Biden who cares about the Ukrainian border”}}’>Honestly I don’t really care what’s going on in Ukraine I’m sick of Joe Biden who cares about the Ukrainian border.

Republican Stefanik sharply criticized Biden, calling him unfit and speaking of weak leadership on the international stage.

Elise Stefanik, third highest Republican in the hierarchy in the House of Representatives

Photo: Getty Images/Drew Angerer

Even elected Republicans have gone down the path of bashing the Biden administration. Like Elise Stefanik, rising star of the party, deeply Trumpist, and who recently became the third most representative in the hierarchy in the House.

Last Thursday, even though she used the term war criminal against Putin, she especially took advantage of a speech to sharply criticize Biden, calling him unfit and speaking of a weakness of leadership on the international scene. Hello unity against the enemy…

A republican malaise

Liz Cheney, who fell out of favor with theestablishment of the Republican Party – moreover to the benefit of Elise Stefanik – for her numerous criticisms of Trump, was one of the rare Republican personalities to harshly criticize the words of the former president. The ex-president’s adulation of Putin helps our enemies, and Trump’s interests don’t seem to be aligned with those of the United States.

This strange fascination of Donald Trump for the strong man of Russia demonstrates in any case an emerging division in the Republican Party. That of the traditional guard, the old guard some would say, who have often warned against aggressive Russian behavior in general, and that of a certain rising generation of conservatives who openly wonder why the United States should care what Russia is doing.

A doctrine often carried by Donald Trump who made his mandate an opportunity to disengage the United States internationally and who preferred to give his time to get closer to unapproachable people like the North Korean Kim Jong Un or even to find so many qualities in Putin.

The invasion of Ukraine has therefore highlighted this unease with the sometimes disturbing influence of Trump. Is admiration for Vladimir Putin likely to make the former tenant of the White House lose his feathers, who says he wants to take his revenge and return to 1600, Pennsylvania Avenue in 2024?

It is still too early to tell. But, at the end of the week, in the sunny state of Florida, Governor Ron de Santis did not want to touch on the controversy raised by Trump on Russia. Knowing that he is said to have intentions of running for the Republican presidential nomination and that he has several tens of millions of dollars in the bank for such a quest, his silence says a lot about his appreciation of the actions of his potential adversary.

A man with both hands raised as if protesting something.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (file)

Photo: AP/Wilfredo Lee

A Democratic lifeline?

As Joe Biden prepares for his State of the Union address on Tuesday evening, can the turmoil created by these Republican voices sometimes more hostile to President Joe Biden than to Russia give hope to the Democrats who would like to limit the damage in the midterm elections next November?

It would be very surprising. But there is, at the very least, a questioning about the behavior admiring of Trump with regard to Putin which could have an impact on the next electoral campaigns, as much that of next November as the next primaries for the presidential nomination within the Republican Party.

Everything will depend on the evolution of the war.

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