Since apparently it’s now a question of whether or not Republican leaders will unequivocally disavow Russian President Vladimir Putin, former President George W. Bush distinguished himself from the GOP crowd this week with a statement condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Bush commented that “Russia’s attack on Ukraine constitutes the gravest security crisis on the European continent since World War II,” pointedly adding as follows:
‘I join the international community in condemning Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine. The American government and people must stand in solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people as they seek freedom and the right to choose their own future. We cannot tolerate the authoritarian bullying and danger that Putin poses. Ukraine is our friend and democratic ally and deserves our full support during this most difficult time.’
George W. Bush:
"Russia’s attack on Ukraine constitutes the gravest security crisis on the European continent since World War II." pic.twitter.com/93yUhhF1I8
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) February 24, 2022
Soon before the invasion, Trump referred to Putin as “genius” over Russia’s decision to recognize two regions of Ukraine as independent countries and announce troop deployments to the areas. As Trump explained his perspective, “Putin is now saying, ‘It’s independent,’ a large section of Ukraine. I said, ‘How smart is that?’ And he’s going to go in and be a peacekeeper… That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen. There were more army tanks than I’ve ever seen. They’re going to keep peace, all right. No, but think of it. Here’s a guy who’s very savvy.” No matter Trump’s documented past of seeming affinity for or at least apparent interest in glossing over the destructive acts of figures like Putin, it remains jarring for a former president of the United States to speak in such a fashion about an authoritarian leader who violently oppresses his own people and launches unprovoked military attacks outside their country.
"Russia’s attack on Ukraine constitutes the gravest security crisis on the European continent since World War II. I join the international community in condemning Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine." President Bush statement:https://t.co/x2CSLZIBbM
— George W. Bush Presidential Center (@TheBushCenter) February 24, 2022
Troublingly, Trump has allies in his approach to Putin within the mainstream conservative media ecosystem. Tucker Carlson, whose show on Fox is watched by millions of people, recently questioned whether Putin or Democrats were worse for the people of the United States, phrasing hypothetical questions for his viewers to ask themselves as follows: “Has Putin ever called me a racist?.. Is he teaching my children to embrace racial discrimination?.. Is he trying to snuff out Christianity?.. Vladimir Putin didn’t do any of that… You should be mad at the people who are making your life worse, who are preventing you from saying what you think is true, who are calling you a racist” and “are allowing your country to become polluted and overrun and filled with drugs and the homeless.” Carlson asked these questions before the invasion, but after signs of aggression from Russia towards Ukraine were already abundantly clear. And the Right is supposed to be taken seriously by observers as an authority on being tough on Putin? Seriously?
Hey remember when Donald Trump tried to condition military aid to Ukraine on Ukraine's president providing dirt on Trump's political rival and then the Republican Party and its associated propaganda apparatus were virtually united in saying that was fine?
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) February 24, 2022