February 28, 2022

New York magazine's Ben Jacobs reports from CPAC:

The specter of escalating war in Europe may have overshadowed this year’s CPAC, but it did not haunt it. The annual conservative confab was far more focused on the threats of wokeness and being canceled than those posed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The conflict was mostly a side note at an event that catered far more to culture warriors than cold warriors....

There were kind words for Vladimir Putin in Donald Trump's CPAC speech, but he condemned the invasion -- he clearly got the memo that Republican voters disapprove of what Putin is doing. He didn't really bring up the invasion in order to talk about geopolitics.

He condemned the Russian invasion as “appalling” and “an atrocity.” Trump also called Putin “smart,” America’s NATO allies “not so smart,” and claimed Russian aggression “would not have happened if there wasn’t a rigged election.” He even attempted to paint himself as uniquely tough on Russia, telling the crowd: “Under Bush, Russia invaded Georgia. Under Obama, Russia took Crimea. Under Biden, Russia invaded Ukraine. I stand as the only president of the 21st century on whose watch Russia did not invade another country.”

... Trump’s attention to the crisis in Europe ... felt like a mere formality, let alone one he used primarily to praise himself and attack his enemies.

And that's the message of most of the speeches: right-wingers are awesome, liberals (and right-wing politicians who don't toe the conservatively correct line) are evil.

Speaking on Thursday, Florida governor Ron DeSantis ... stuck exclusively to similar themes. Even when the first-term governor described his state as a “citadel of freedom” for anyone “chafing under authoritarian rule around the world,” the regimes he condemned were Australia and Canada over their COVID policies. Throughout his speech, DeSantis emphasized his opposition to what he called “Faucism,” as well as wokeness, which he described as the “new religion of the left.”

... Florida congressman Matt Gaetz ... jibed that his constituents “fear Dr. Fauci far more than a modern-day incarnation of Dr. Strangelove.”

Former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes looks at the global response to the Ukraine invasion and sees possible signs of hope:

But our corrupt, nationalist authoritarians are perpetually on offense, and the political environment looks better and better for them. A new ABC News poll shows voters favoring Republicans over Democrats by 7 points in congressional voting, with the lead expanding to 13 among registered voters who say they're certain to vote. And Trump continues to lead Biden in 2024 polling.

It seems only slightly crazy to ask whether Trump, if he'd been reelected, would have invaded Canada in support of the truck blockaders, or sent troops to Australia to liberate Novak Djokovic. But it's clear that foreign policy isn't what right-wing are focused on. The right doesn't care much what happens in Ukraine as long as domestic enemies are blamed. Putin thinks Ukraine belongs to Russia; American right-wingers feel the same way about liberal America. They want us in fear of their trucks and guns, they want our books banned, they want out trans kids repressed. They call us fascists just the way Putin refers to the Ukrainians he's trying to crush as Nazis. The difference is, if the polls are right, our authoritarian madmen will seize control within the next few years without firing a shot.

Posted with permission from No More Mr. Nice Blog

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