June 16, 2024

The delay that was costly

In Other Words

As Russia advanced in their assault on Ukraine, Ukrainian forces suffered greatly from the consequences of a six-months delay in American military aid.

The Russian offensive forced Ukrainian forces to withdraw from areas of the country along their eastern border and their soldiers endured serious casualties from the full-scale invasion. The Russian incursion forced at least 10,000 local people to flee their homes.

At the very time the two-year war was entering a critical stage, much needed weapons and ammunition were withheld from Ukrainian soldiers because MAGA Republicans in the House of Representatives wanted to play politics. It’s inexcusable the Biden administration was forced to withhold ready-to-go equipment in stock while Ukraine suffered.

It’s terrifying to think of soldiers fighting desperately to save their country from the brutal invasion by a much larger enemy – Russia, without adequate artillery. Ukrainian soldiers had to actually ration bullets in order to make them last. Russia opened new fronts during the delay, taking advantage of Ukraine’s shortage of ammunition. They made significant progress battling and destroying a lot of Ukraine’s defensive artillery.

This is exactly what American officials feared would happen while Speaker Mike Johnson dilly-dallied and refused to bring the Ukraine bill to the floor. It’s suspected Johnson never intended to bring the bill forward as he had never once voted for aid to Ukraine before. He finally agreed to the $60 billion aid package only when convinced by intelligence officials of the Russian threat to the United States if Ukraine falls. The bill then passed overwhelmingly.

The Speaker knew in advance the bill could be passed only with support from Democrats. He also knew there would be a call from Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Green to vacate the Speaker’s chair if he went ahead with the vote. Johnson apparently trusted Democrats to help him remain as Speaker if Taylor-Green made her move. Sure enough, when she made the motion to oust Johnson, only 11 Republicans backed her. Other Republicans were joined by Democrats who favored retaining Johnson over the prospect of more turmoil in the House.

Democrats won’t save Johnson again. Not after his stunt of publicly appearing at Donald Trump’s hush-money trial in New York. He joined other Republican lawmakers who took it upon themselves to attack witnesses, the judge and relatives of court officials; attacks Trump was prevented from making by his gag order. After Trump’s conviction, Johnson calls the trial a “sham,” like other diehard supporters such as Senators Scott, Rubio and Cruz and Iowa Gov. Reynolds.

Johnson thinks Trump’s conviction is “political persecution,” and is unfairly attacking our acclaimed American system of justice. Trump, a lifelong New Yorker, was indicted by a New York grand jury and convicted by a jury of his peers, but his supporters seem to think laws don’t apply to him. Sen. Joni Ernst says his indictments are a “weaponization by the Biden Department of Justice.” That claim is patently false.

Johnson’s ill-advised conduct in his role as Speaker of the House of Representatives should come as no surprise. He led Republican challenges to the legitimate electoral votes cast for Biden in each state. His fealty to Trump is complete.

This Speaker of the House is trying to turn the American people against our federal and state legal systems - against the very foundation of our government, against our democracy. He said, “This ridiculous prosecution is not about justice. It’s all about politics.” Now he wants his friends on the Supreme Court to reverse Trump’s conviction. That’s not how our system works.

Johnson is a lawyer, a member of the bar. He not only attacked witnesses, he criticized the prosecutors, the judge and the judge’s daughter. His comments were way out of line, both as Speaker and as a lawyer bound by a strict code of ethics.

Trump’s extramarital encounters with porn stars and playmates, plus the lewd behavior he bragged about on the Access Hollywood tape, should be unacceptable to an avowed devout evangelical like Johnson, who claims the Bible is his guide to governing.

Former Rep. Liz Cheney posted this comment, “I have to admit I’m surprised Speaker Johnson wants to be in the ‘I cheated on my wife with a porn star club.’ I guess he’s not that concerned with teaching morality to our young people after all.”