Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Moscow Mules

We all know of Trump's questionable relationships with Russia, but I don't think anyone was quite ready for a delegation of 7 Republican Senators and one Representative to visit Moscow as a prequel to Trump's Helsinki summit with Putin.  The unannounced visit had apparently been planned months in advance before any knowledge of a summit with Russia's strongman.  So, what exactly is the purpose here other than taking in a bit of Moscow's cultural scene?

Russian oligarchs not only funneled money into Donald's campaign, but also various GOP Congressional campaigns, including that of John McCain, one of the more ardent Russophobes on Capitol Hill.  Albeit, McCain's sugar daddy hailed from Ukraine, so he might have been confused in thinking he was supporting a different cause.  Maybe Mackie planned on going before being sidelined with the recurrence of his cancer that garnered him so much sympathy.  One would like to think their intents were noble, to restart negotiations after years of indifference, but all that money says otherwise.

The other big question is why July 4?  Shouldn't all these senators and lone representative be celebrating our independence at home, not in Russia?  Sens. Kennedy and Thune tried to pretend they were back at home by offering generic congratulatory tweets, but it was pretty hard to cover up such a large American delegation in Moscow.

This all comes after Trump essentially turned his back to the G-7 in Quebec, questioned our membership in the World Trade Organization and is once again harping on NATO members not meeting their military obligations.  All things that play right into Putin's hands, as he tries to drive a wedge, or rather several wedges through traditional Western allies.

He already has succeeded in turning Hungary against the EU, as he foments anxiety among Eastern European countries.  He also scored a big victory in Italy a few weeks ago, when an anti-immigration coalition took control of their parliament.  He chips away at Europe, much like Stalin did back in the 40s, finally getting FDR to give in at Yalta.  Will Helsinki become another Yalta, with Trump conceding Crimea, and essentially giving Putin the green light for other incursions into the West?

Whatever purpose these senators and representative seem to have is to give Moscow the assurance they have support in Congress.  Whatever tactics Russia used in 2016 to help sway American voters toward the GOP will be on full display again, as the Republican Party is taking no chances when it comes to key Congressional races.

It really makes you wonder how we got here?  How the US could turn its back on traditional allies and actively court Russia at a time of so much unrest is a mystery historians will be left to sort out, as the American media hasn't been very good in doing so.  They seem to go whichever way the wind blows, contributing to this country's attention span deficit. 

For many conservatives, Russia is now the "good guy," as it supports a set of values similar to their own.  Marriage equality is not recognized in Russia.  Gay pride rallies are banned, as is the gay pride flag, leading some ingenuous activists to make this quiet protest during the World Cup.  Russia is tough on abortions.  The news media is kept in check, if need be maliciously.  Moscow is a conservative's wet dream, except for the fact that gun laws are much tighter in Russia.

It doesn't seem to matter how much intelligence is provided that shows the extent of Russia's involvement in the 2016 election, these conservative legislators are willing to turn a blind eye as long as they stay in power.  Whatever talk there was about meddling in the election was kept to a minimum so as not to upset their Russian counterparts.

Dana Milibank tried to come up with names for this deceitful lot but couldn't settle on one.  Moscow Mules seems as good as any.  One would think this would hurt them in the midterms, but to no surprise none of them are up for re-election this time around.  It's mostly Democrats, with Republicans looking for any edge they can get to hang onto their +1 advantage in the Senate.  Plus-2 if you count their man Pence.

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