It’s my view that the establishment media loves senate Republicans – or at least they dote over Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his ideological ilk.
Last week when it was revealed (on Tucker Carlson’s show) that Florida Governor (and almost certain future Republican presidential candidate) Ron DeSantis doesn’t toe the Washington establishment line on prioritizing the ongoing war in Ukraine, the always conflict-seeking journos ran to the nearest GOP ruling class senator they could locate to disparage DeSantis’s realistic alternative viewpoint as ignorant and incorrect – and dangerous to national security.
The snobby senators aren’t interested in debating the topic – they simply want all Americans, and especially those influential people within their own party, to accept what they think as beyond objection. They’re the ones getting the intelligence reports, right? How could anyone possibly think differently than they do? Shouldn’t everyone embrace their opinions?
In a piece titled “Senate Republicans distance themselves from DeSantis’s Ukraine stance”, Al Weaver reported at The Hill:
“Multiple Republicans took aim at [DeSantis’s] remarks, which came in a lengthy statement to Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, and indicated they believe DeSantis is basing his stance on politics, not national security interests.
“’It does seem consistent with many of the things we’re hearing on television and certain friends in the Republican Party,’ Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) told The Hill. ‘But I don’t think that this is a long-game political strategy and it’s certainly not a long-game national security strategy.’
“’I really am concerned that he’s — and other members of our party — aren’t prepared to show resolve in this region because it will have broader implications in the Asian Pacific and the Middle East and beyond. This is the one thing that Vladimir Putin seems to be hoping for right now, which is just to outlast the U.S.,’ Young continued. ‘It seems plain that if we’re not assisting Ukraine and their efforts right now, we’re going to have NATO treaty allies with the Russian army standing on their border. The security implications of that are grave and could require an even greater expenditure of resources moving forward.’”
Blah, blah, blah. And they said if we didn’t go immediately into Iraq twenty years ago, Saddam Hussein would nuke us and there’d be terrorists hidden in every abandoned building in America’s deteriorating cities, right? I don’t remember what the justification was back then, but there’s very little to show for the trillions invested in a war that had no resolution nor discernible benefits.
Now, many of the same schleps who promoted the dire emergency in Iraq are deep into insisting there’s a serious threat if America doesn’t go all in for Ukraine.
Have these people no eyes? Can’t they ascertain Putin has been stymied from taking over his neighbor, much less preparing to invade Poland or points farther west? Russia has neither the manpower nor resources to take his war aims to the much richer NATO countries.
Let’s cut through the crap here and get down to the link log. These named and unnamed Republican senators aren’t the least bit concerned about Vladimir Putin, Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Russian seized territory in Eastern Ukraine – or even about America’s post World War II NATO alliance that no longer makes sense in today’s global balance of power.
No, they’re worried about the paychecks of corporate defense companies whose lobbyists rank among the most powerful entities in Washington. Whereas the representatives of most special interests might ask Uncle Sam to chip in a hundred million or two here and there, the defense-related expenditures run into the hundreds of billions. That’s a lot of cabbage to sprinkle around their industries – and theoretically is devoted to making lots and lots of bombs and bullets.
What they don’t share with us is the amount of overhead to factor into all of these enormous defense contracts. You (or more appropriately, we) must pay a huge slice to the bloated fat cat lobbying firms who lay out big bucks to guys and gals in suits who rise every day in the middle of the night to clean themselves up so as to look presentable in their fancy downtown DC offices on K Street. These old pros (swamp creatures) rely on their rolodexes (or these days, phone contact lists) to make appointments, pour sugar in a lot of ears, submit sample legislative language to insert into appropriations bills – which no lawmaker ever reads – and the process begins again the next day or week or month, and so on and so on.
Then there’s the layer of federal bureaucracy charged with dishing out the money to the contractors, and these career employees administer tons of forms and shuffle them through the process, checking every now and then to see whether the proper t’s are crossed and i’s are dotted. These same types of bureaucrats – perhaps in another part of the executive branch – assess what needs to be done and write regulations governing contracting, bidding, payments, receipts, etc.
And if a Democrat is in the White House, as is the case now, the “civil servants” then assess whether the company meets the DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) demands of the current ruling regime. These folks might also consult with losers from liberal special interest groups who are similarly paid lots of money to pass judgment on the entities receiving the federal money.
It’s a killer cycle, and one of the main reasons why Washington is so hopelessly broken today.
Establishment Republican senators are only the top predator on the food chain, the ones who do the hunting (for money) to feed the hungry hogs down below. For if they fail to accumulate enough “kills” and “carcasses”, the lobbyists might not bother overseeing the PACs and bundlers who patrol the political contributions system. And the politicians might not get reelected. Perish the thought!
Forgive my cynicism, but this doesn’t have much to do with Ron DeSantis’s views on Ukraine, and whether he’s right about the war being a “territorial dispute” or if there’s something much deeper across the ocean where people we’ve never met fight people we’ll never meet over land that we’ll never visit and has only the most tortured connection to what Americans are involved with today.
My son’s high school baseball team played its first game of the season last week. While I admit that I’d like to see the Ukrainians summons the courage and skill – and weaponry – to defeat their invaders, I cared a heck of a lot more about the outcome of the baseball game and my son’s contributions to the effort. Does this make me heartless or merely realistic? Or ignorant?
Such a narrow worldview doesn’t make me selfish or insensitive. And DeSantis is far from an isolationist just because he doesn’t carry a mindset of pull all U.S. foreign support everywhere. He merely suggested that our preeminent national interests revolve around problems in our own hemisphere, many of them dealing with the lack of a secured southern border. When foreign invaders are found in every U.S. city and the tangential problems of illegal immigration weigh down the entire system, how can it be argued that victory or defeat in Ukraine is of greater urgency than what the average urban American deals with every day?
We can only assume DeSantis is being forthright about his views on American foreign policy, which are much closer to the America First views of Donald Trump than they are to the disgraced George W. Bush neoconservative wing of the GOP, which includes most of the senators interviewed for Weaver’s story. Those who maintain the United States has to be everything, everywhere all at once were sorely disappointed to realize that the likely Republican 2024 nominee – whether it’s Trump or DeSantis – will bring with him a healthy skepticism of the military industrial complex and the absolute obligation to spend into oblivion.
And Trump’s and DeSantis’s views align with the conservative grassroots as well. You know, the ones who used to supply their sons and support to the U.S. military under the leadership of men like Ronald Reagan. The Gipper talked a lot about defeating communism and containing the Soviet expansion during the eighties, but he didn’t sink us into wars without definition or objective.
I think the swamp establishment believes that just because Reagan talked tough that he meant to get the U.S. knee deep in any foreign conflict no matter how attenuated from genuine U.S. interests it might be.
The back-and-forth between the two sides will go well beyond the 2024 election. Joe Biden and the Democrats come down on the forever war side, as do most of liberals these days (for whatever reason). The awful experiences overseas the past three decades – and even farther back, to Vietnam – proved there’s a limit to what can be accomplished at the point of a gun.
Ron DeSantis’s opinions on Ukraine may not be well regarded in the upper echelons of the GOP establishment, but they resonate with the people who vote. It’s time the Washington lawmaker class took a few cues from the folks who fight the wars -- and pay for them, too.
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