Really Stupid Republicans Take the Press Bait on DeSantis’ Ukraine Comments

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AP Photo/Marta Lavandier

As RedState reported on Tuesday, Ron DeSantis caused an outcry after sharing his views on the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. In a fairly nuanced statement given to Tucker Carlson, the Florida governor asserted that the United States becoming “further entangled” in the situation was not in the nation’s vital interests. He also described the current state of the war as a “territorial dispute.”

That sent the more rabidly pro-Ukraine political factions into fits of rage. Even broadly supporting Ukrainian aid isn’t enough for them. According to their standards, you must also use the right language, and not describing the conflict as an existential fight for “democracy” is to bend to the will of Vladimir Putin. Figures like Adam Kinzinger and David French gnashed their teeth at DeSantis for daring have a more complex view.

Regardless, while that’s to be expected, what’s inexcusable is for really stupid Republican politicians to take the bait on DeSantis’ comments. Enter Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota, who walked right into the trap laid for him by the press.

For starters, it is no surprise that Jennifer Griffin asked this question in such a dishonest way. She is a stenographer for the Pentagon and has never met a foreign war she doesn’t use her position to eagerly promote. You would think Fox News would have a national security reporter who wouldn’t misrepresent the words of a major (soon-to-be) Republican presidential candidate, but I guess not.

If you’ve read DeSantis’ statement, he never says that “supporting Ukraine is not in the US national security interest.” Now, maybe you are reading this and wish he had said that, but he didn’t. Here’s the exact quote she’s misconstruing.

While the U.S. has many vital national interests – securing our borders, addressing the crisis of readiness within our military, achieving energy security and independence, and checking the economic, cultural, and military power of the Chinese Communist Party – becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them. The Biden administration’s virtual “blank check” funding of this conflict for “as long as it takes,” without any defined objectives or accountability, distracts from our country’s most pressing challenges.

The key phrase there is “further entangled.” DeSantis has supported aid to Ukraine in the past (just as Donald Trump has). His statement also makes it clear that he wants defined objectives and accountability. He goes on to provide examples of what unacceptable escalation would look like, including giving F-16s and long-range missiles to Ukraine.

But what he did not do is say that all support for Ukraine is not in the US national security interest.  If you read the totality of his words, he never makes a call to abandon Ukraine completely nor does he suppose Russia isn’t a threat. Griffin’s question is based on a false premise and given her track record, I struggle to give her the benefit of the doubt on why that happened. She also ignores his use of the word “vital.” Something can be in the US national security interest but not be a vital national interest. DeSantis’ statement lays that out, noting that there are domestic issues that must be prioritized.

Regardless, while dishonest reporters are going to do their thing, that’s not an excuse for a GOP senator to play into it without getting all the facts first. Rounds and other GOP senators accepted Griffin’s misframed premise and then did exactly what she wanted them to do: Attack another Republican for not being pure enough on Ukraine.

Is it really too much to ask for Republican senators to do basic research before answering questions? Have they still not figured out that the press is out to manipulate them? The fact that reporters are asking questions obviously meant to elicit red-on-red fire should have been a tip-off to pause and verify the content of their inquiries. Instead, they just played right into it.

If the GOP is going to become a party worth anything again, those who represent it must get smarter. The press is not your friend, and that includes certain reporters at Fox News. Stop taking the bait.

1 COMMENT

  1. Well, there ARE Repubs with the inability to understand the truth. We’re being pushed from all sides by the WEF and NWO and our own DEmonrat/RINO garbage to stay in conflict.

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