Pro-Kremlin voices cheer as McCarthy refuses Zelensky's invite
Kevin McCarthy refused an invite from Zelensky to visit Ukraine because he remains a hostage of the MAGA caucus that doesn't want peace. They want a Ukrainian capitulation.
In case you missed it, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky invited Republican Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy to visit Ukraine last week to give him a tour of the country, the state of the war and an opportunity to discuss firsthand where the U.S. aid to the Ukrainian government is going. McCarthy declined the offer, stating, “I don't have to go to Ukraine to understand where there's a blank check or not.”
Unfortunately, it’s an unsurprising decision that underscores both the slowly waning support within the Republican Party for continued aid to Ukraine and particularly so within the MAGA movement. Kevin McCarthy knows how important it is for aid to continue—based on his own quotes over the years about the threat Russia posed in Ukraine—but that doesn’t guarantee he’s going to allow it to continue indefinitely.
Why is McCarthy going along with this untrue statement about not wanting a “blank check” for Ukraine? Because he’s being held hostage by the MAGA movement, and make no mistake, their goal is unequivocally to put an end to ALL U.S. aid to the Ukrainian government. For all their talk of wanting “peace” in Ukraine, what they really want is Ukrainian capitulation. The usual MAGA figures gleefully announced McCarthy’s decision. He’s one of theirs now.
Do Republicans really want to end aid to Ukraine?
Kevin McCarthy’s line about no “blank checks” closely mirrors Ron DeSantis’s recent statements and other similar sentiments shared by so-called moderate or establishment Republicans. They are inching towards their goal with an eye on the current polling within the GOP.
Continuing to provide financial support and military aid to Ukraine remains popular with most Americans. Though support within the Republican base is waning, there’s still roughly equal support for continuing to provide more or the same amount of aid to the Ukrainian cause compared to the support for sending less overall aid. Given this, there are few Republican lawmakers who are willing to come out and say they want to unequivocally end aid to Ukraine. So far, the most vocal proponents of this idea are Marjorie Taylor Green and Matt Gaetz—two far-right House Republicans whose districts are the safest of safe heavy Republican seats.
For Republicans in less safe districts and those, like DeSantis, who want to win over the remaining moderates in the party, the prevailing talking point at the moment among the less extreme adherents of this ideology is “Russia is bad, kinda, but there should be no blank checks to Ukraine.” They’re going to keep massaging this message, repeating it over and over and over again, until support for aid drops low enough among their voters to follow through with decreasing and eventually cutting off aid. It is the start of the process of shifting the Overton Window for Steve Bannon and those who think like him. The fact that Kevin McCarthy keeps reiterating this “blank check” talking point does not speak well of his future plans regarding Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Neither would Donald Trump winning the Republican primary. According to a recent Yahoo News/YouGov poll of 1,516 U.S. adults:
One year into the war between Ukraine and Russia, most Donald Trump voters now say the United States has given “too much” military aid to Ukraine (51%) and that such aid should “decrease” going forward (54%), according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll.
These findings suggest that the broad, bipartisan consensus that has so far defined the U.S. response to the war — that Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine without just cause, and that America should do whatever it can to help the Ukrainians fight back — may be eroding ahead of next year’s presidential election.
The survey of 1,516 U.S. adults, which was conducted from Feb. 23 to 27 to coincide with the one-year anniversary of Putin’s invasion, does show that Americans continue to favor the Biden administration’s aggressive pro-Ukraine posture, which has entailed more than $75 billion in humanitarian, financial and military assistance to date.
McCarthy agreed to a list of demands by the far-right wing of the party in order to become the next Speaker of the House after fifteen rounds of voting. Meanwhile, Donald Trump has continued to show signs that he is willing to pursue “peace” in Ukraine at any cost. This includes at least decreasing U.S. aid to Ukraine to force them to the negotiating table where he believes ceding Ukrainian territory to Russia should be considered. If Trump becomes the nominee, at what point will McCarthy be forced to act in MAGA’s favor on this point, and what will the personal consequences be if he refuses?
MAGA hated Biden’s visit to Kyiv
One of Russia’s primary goals in their ongoing information operations against the United States has been to find pressure points of disagreement in our society and to exploit them for maximum chaos. They’ve taken polarizing issues like racism, police brutality, climate change, gun control and elevated both sides of the debate in order to foment increasing amounts of resentment and anger. Biden’s visit to Kyiv last month and his time in the country with Zelensky was the perfect counterweight to Russia’s attempts to divide our nation. It sent a strong message of commitment and solidarity to the Kremlin and their little helpers in the West. That Biden’s visit came one day after the much hyped but sparsely attended pro-Putin “Rage Against the War Machine” rally in Washington D.C. made it ever sweeter. It showed solidarity and strength, and the MAGA contingent in the United States were as upset as the Kremlin was over the entire incident. They attempted to downplay the scene and setting by claiming it was all staged theatre.
These attempts to disparage Biden’s visit didn’t work and were abandoned after a few days. The success of the visit had already been achieved, and the right-wing moved on the next shiny information campaign. Kevin McCarthy’s refusal to visit Kyiv doesn’t even come close to undoing to unity Biden showed the international community, but it does achieve two goals. It shows the Kremlin that this is a divide in our society which they can exploit—which they subsequently did in an article about this on their via their state-owned media company RT—and it lays bare the reality that Kevin McCarthy struck a corrupt bargain with MAGA to become Speaker of the House.
The split in the Republican Party is not as dire as RT makes it out to be, but again, McCarthy’s decision makes this narrative easier for Kremlin propaganda to sell, and sell they will. A visit to Kyiv from McCarthy may be a symbolic gesture, but it would also be an extremely important one to make. As the New York Times put it:
Several high-level Americans have gone to Kyiv since the war began, some in the past two months. In February, President Biden traveled to Kyiv to demonstrate the United States’ “unwavering support” for Ukraine. He walked through the Ukrainian capital’s streets alongside Mr. Zelensky as air-raid sirens sounded. One week later, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen visited Ukraine’s prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, and announced the transfer of $1.25 billion in economic and budget assistance to Ukraine. And last week, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland met with Mr. Zelensky and attended a conference in Lviv.
I won’t hold out hope for the idea, but I genuinely hope McCarthy changes his mind and walks the streets of Kyiv with President Zelensky. He could do so without promising the Ukrainian president anything at all, but the gesture alone would show the world we remain united against the authoritarian leaders around the world who support Putin’s genocidal war of choice in Ukraine which wishes to extinguish the Ukrainian people and her culture.
Trump 2024 is the retribution
Trump’s recent CPAC speech got a lot of attention after he stated[JM1] , “In 2016, I declared, I am your voice. Today, I add, I am your warrior, I am your justice, and for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution.” Thoughts of retribution both echo sentiments shared by authoritarian leaders as well as true believers engaged in a holy war. A second Trump term will be, as Trump’s former NSA John Bolton put it, “I think he’s talking about retribution he would exact on people who would cross him.” Adding, “It would be, first and foremost, getting back at the people he thinks deserve some kind of punishment for not doing what he tells them to do. And it’s a big group of people.”
All those who have wronged Trump, in his eyes, have reason to fear his wrath. It’s the fear that makes me almost certain that today, in March 2023, Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee in 2024. From Tucker Carlson to Kevin McCarthy to the lowliest DeSantis Twitter troll, it’s the fear which will keep them from really going after Trump. It’s the fear that will make them fall in line behind MAGA once more after he’s nominated all while crossing their fingers behind their backs and praying that we don’t see an upset repeat mirroring that in 2016. However unlikely a Trump win may appear in 2024, if he is the nominee, anything is possible. We should be aware of that, and the retribution he promised will be coming.
There is at least an awareness of what may be coming that wasn’t well understood in 2016. We’ve already seen what a Donald Trump presidential term will look like, and we can imagine what four years of Retribution will look like. They will do everything in their power to turn QAnon from a fantasy into a reality, and those who do not enjoy the Retribution Tour will be far too afraid to stop cheering for it.
In truth, vengeance is already underway. It began the moment Kevin McCarthy humiliated and degrading himself sufficiently to be allowed to become Speaker of the House. From the Twitter Files to Jim Jordan’s “Weaponization Committee” to all the other 4chan-inspired ratfuck committees run by House Republicans, the targeting and elimination of Trump’s enemies is truly underway. It is in some ways a preview, but they’re laying the information foundation to take this to the next level if Don wins in 2024. Whether for real or imagined slights—and it’s all imagined in this case—Zelensky is on MAGA’s shit list. Trump’s information ecosystem has told him what he needs to say. They’ve been selling Kremlin-backed narratives about Ukraine since 2016, and it’s only become more blatant in recent years. According to their media sphere, it was Ukraine not Russia who meddled in the 2016 election. It was Ukraine who managed to get Trump impeached in 2019 with the help of the Democrats and the Deep State. It was Ukraine who wouldn’t just “let him get along” with Vladimir Putin, who Trump still cannot bring himself to stop complimenting as he wages a genocidal war of choice in Ukraine. A base so thoroughly steeped in pro-Kremlin talking points will demand the Retribution be extended to the Ukrainian state. They’ll come up with an excuse for it later—some “evidence” will emerge of the Democrat FTX money laundering Ukrainian Nazi COVID-19 biolabs funded by George Soros on a “Hunter Biden laptop” translated from its original Cyrillic. It won’t take much more than that to convince their audience to get on board.
Kevin McCarthy knows it’s not about “blanks checks” or concern about “peace”. It’s about capitulation. McCarthy’s sinking humiliations have no bottom, and as Trump’s star rises, we may yet see “my Kevin” go lower.