Is he their president or ours?
Instead of watching Fox News, which manufactures heroic propaganda about President Donald Trump, Republican voters could learn much more from seeing a few hours of Russian television. It is on shows broadcast from Moscow and St. Petersburg where the truth about the Trump administration can be heard.
The message is emphatically not "Make America Great Again."
No, the Russian outlook articulated by Russian commentators -- who faithfully reflect Kremlin policy -- is that Trump's incompetence and incoherence greatly benefit the motherland by weakening its rival America. This mocking theme has aired consistently on the top Russian TV channels for years now and has only intensified as "their" president is threatened by impeachment and electoral defeat.
Indeed, the Kremlin's broadcasters deride Trump not only for his crude style and obvious ignorance but also for his pathetic sycophancy toward their boss, President Vladimir Putin. In August, the top Moscow news program, "60 Minutes," featured a video mashup with clips of Trump's speeches to depict him warbling a pop song as Putin played the piano. The meaning was clear, especially to the snickering studio audience: The American president sings and dances to the Russian president's tune.
But that disrespectful attitude toward Trump only strengthens their determination to protect and promote him, which is why the Russian media -- and their friends in the United States, from far left to far right -- so staunchly oppose impeachment.
"Have you lost your minds that you want to remove our Donald Ivanovych?" asked popular talk show host Vladimir Soloviev. Figures like Soloviev frequently apply that possessive (and protective) adjective to Trump, whom they discuss as if he were literally owned by a foreign state.
Of course, the Russians understand our system well and feel reasonably confident that even if the House votes to impeach Trump, he will survive a Senate trial. In the Daily Beast, Olga Skabeeva, host of that Russian "60 Minutes" show, is quoted making a confident prediction: "A Republican majority in the Senate won't allow the president whom we elected, wonderful Donald Trump, to be sent off. It's impossible. He has 90 percent support in the Republican Party."
In that same article, another prominent Russian media figure is even more candid. According to film producer Karen Shakhnazarov, who frequently appears on Russian TV: "They say Trump is making Russia great. That's basically accurate. The chaos brought by Trump into the American system of government is weakening the United States. America is getting weaker and now Russia is taking its place in the Middle East. Suddenly, Russia is starting to seriously penetrate Africa ... So when they say that Trump is weakening the United States -- yes, he is. And that's why we love him ... The more problems they have, the better it is for us."
That is why the Kremlin has been exploiting a small army of useful idiots like Rudy Giuliani, Sen. Rand Paul, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Donald Trump Jr., among others, to promote conspiracy theories that exonerate Moscow and indict Ukraine in the 2016 election interference. It is why their tool Trump tried to blackmail the Ukrainian president into serving that scheme. It is why the Russians are so determined to defend Trump from impeachment or any other threat. And it is why they are so keen to discredit Joe Biden or any other Democrat who might be able to unseat him next year.
It is no accident, comrades -- to quote the old Communist Party cliche -- that the Washington lawyers who represent a Putin-connected oligarch are also spreading false stories about the Bidens and the supposed Democratic National Committee server in Ukraine. The entire right-wing apparatus is starting to look like a GRU intelligence operation.
So the Republicans who still imagine themselves as patriots ought to consider what John McCain would say today. He would probably tell them to get a grip -- with an expletive thrown in for emphasis -- and stop serving a foreign adversary.
To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.Copyright 2019 Creators Syndicate Inc.