Vichy Republicans: Spineless
Rex Tillerson, President Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, received the Russia Federation’s highest award possible for a foreign national. He opposed, and continues to oppose, sanctions on the belligerent and repressive state. For some reason, he refuses to call Vladimir Putin — who assisted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo’s massacre and destruction — a war criminal. And yet, thanks to Vichy Republicans, he will soon be America’s top diplomat.
At a time when the CIA, the FBI, and the NSA all agree that Putin ordered Russian operatives to aide Trump’s election through email hacks, leaks to Julian Assange, and the dissemination of fake news (conclusions with which the president disagrees, decrying the leaks as akin — I kid you not — to Nazi Germany), Putin’s puppet will sit in the Oval Office and his buddy will be a few blocks over in Foggy Bottom.
Senators from both sides of the aisle recognize Russia’s threat and they decry Putin’s attempts to sway our election and undermine faith in democratic institutions across the globe. They recognize that Putin wants a neo-imperial Russian Empire that reclaims lands lost in Europe and the Caucasus. The legislators know that through leaks portrayed as sinister and fake news that encourages ignorance while delegitimizing elected governments help elect far-right authoritarian administrations amenable and not threatening to Putin’s increasingly dictatorial state.
Vichy Republicans Won’t Stand Up to Trump
And yet, despite all that, (Vichy) Republican senators will not oppose Tillerson’s Secretary of State nomination. The likes of John McCain and Lindsey Graham — two Russia hawks — expressed fear about Tillerson’s Russia connections and his refusal to support actions that might challenge new Russian aggression, but they will vote for him. McCain is obviously no longer a Maverick; Graham seems hell-bent on losing the respect some of bestowed upon him for his outspoken criticism of Donald Trump. Once they fold here, on one of their dearest issues, why should we believe they and their likes will oppose Trump on any grounds?
It’s not just McCain and Graham. At least 51 Republicans, knowing quite well the extent of Russian influence on our election, will vote for Putin’s friend, adding to the Trump administration’s already worrisome Russophilia. This only continues the shameful Vichy Republican streak of refusing to steadfastly condemn or stand up to Donald Trump since the fateful day he came down Trump Tower’s escalator to begin a campaign of ignorance and division.
Vichy Republicans will not stand up to Trump. They will offer no opposition even when they realize it is warranted and necessary. These unprincipled lawmakers — by no means statesmen and women — fear only his wrath and resultant electoral retribution. Sadly, they are not motivated by the country’s interests, just their own. Do not expect responsible acting — do expect to hold them responsible in 2018, 2020, and 2024.