With all the drama on Monday afternoon, followed by a night of speeches by a distraught moth, a crazed Chachi and a more crazed Guliani, radical (and dangerous) changes in the Republican Platform got little attention.
One noticeable change is found in the Republican Party’s radical departure from its anti-Russia position. Suddenly, Republicans are cool with Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression against the Ukraine. While a radical change, it’s not surprising when you consider Donald Trump’s public declarations of admiration the Russian dictator.
Trump wanted this very badly because, as Josh Rogin points out, his employees worked hard to prevent the Republican Party from calling to give Ukraine weapons to defend itself.
The story began when Diana Denman, a Cruz supporter, proposed a platform amendment calling to maintain or increase sanctions against Russia, increase aid for Ukraine and “providing lethal defensive weapons” for the Ukraine military. After attempting to water the amendment down, Trump staffers wrote an amendment to the amendment to replace the call for “lethal defensive weapons” with “appropriate support.” That amendment passed.
When you combine this with Trump’s public affection for the dictator who praised him, it isn’t a stretch to conclude that Trump places a higher premium on making nice with said dictator than on inconsequential things like having our allies’ backs and national security. Of course, the wall will fix everything, right?
Trump’s campaign has relied on hate and division. The rare moments that he has shown an interest in policy, he has produced nonsense like his wall, his ban on Muslims and his promise to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants. These are so unrealistic they wouldn’t fool the cartoon pony that Melania Trump allegedly plagiarized.
So why would Trump be interested in this policy?
As Jonathan Chait wrote,
At the very least, it suggests that the candidate’s extensive, fulsome praise for the Russian dictator is more than a passing fancy. Reporters who investigate these ties are being very careful about their conclusions, but this looks really bad.
The ties that Chait refers to extend beyond a few public statements of mutual admiration.
Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort has ties to both Vladimir Putin and former President (who is pro-Russian) Viktor Yanukovych. Manafort worked for Yanukovych for years. Reportedly, Manafort’s friends describe their relationship as a “political love connection.”
Following Yanukovych’s refusal to sign a trade deal with the European Union, he was driven from power and he fled to Russia.
Manafort was paid handsomely to clean up Yanukovych’s negative image, much as he is currently trying to do with Trump. But as is often the case with Western PR men hired to put lipstick on a pig, the pig is still a pig.
Also worth recalling is the fact that Trump delivered his first foreign policy speech at the Center for the National Interest which also has ties to Vladimir Putin. By “coincidence” Putin’s ambassador to the United States was seated in the front row.
In isolation, these facts are inconsequential. But when combined with Trump’s uncharacteristic interest in reversing his party’s Russia-Ukraine policy, his actions look like a signal to Vladimir Putin that Trump has his back. The question is what does this have to do with “making America safe again” or “putting America first”?