The debate over the Russian invasion of Ukraine has delivered a rare moment of unity in American politics. While there are differences of opinion as to how aggressive we should be in response and what the risks of escalation might entail, everyone has largely been in lockstep as to whose fault this is. That would be Vladimir Putin. But as The Hill reports this week, there are some Democrats in the background who are grousing about Joe Biden’s stance. They’re asking why the President hasn’t placed at least some of the blame on Donald Trump. In the rather lengthy article, almost nobody is quoted by name except for the liberal super PAC American Bridge, but those speaking off the record clearly think that Biden is missing an opportunity by not dragging Trump into the blame game. The fact that Putin didn’t invade Ukraine until more than a year into Biden’s presidency doesn’t appear to have crossed their minds.
President Biden has largely avoided pointing the finger at his predecessor on Ukraine, even though some Democrats believe he could defang GOP attacks over Russia by drawing a contrast with former President Trump.
Trump’s frequent embrace of Russian President Vladimir Putin has consistently put Republicans in an awkward position. Ukraine was also at the center of Trump’s first impeachment after his White House held up security assistance to Ukraine as Trump sought an investigation into the Biden family.
Despite that history, the White House has signaled that Trump is not going to be a major part of its talking points on the Russia crisis.
Seemingly desperate to find some way to show that the Biden administration actually does blame Trump, the article points to a comment from Jen Psaki where she said, “Well, as a matter of policy, we try not to take advice from anyone who praises President Putin and his military strategy.” Of course, that comment was in response to a reporter’s question about Trump calling Putin “a genius.” It was also a comment that was made before Putin launched the invasion.
The article similarly points to Psaki’s bizarre followup, where she said, “that’s probably why President Biden, and not his predecessor, was able to rally the world and the global community in taking steps against Russia’s aggression.” And yet there is not a single mention of the fact that Trump never needed to “rally the world” against Putin because Russia never made a move against Ukraine (or anyone, really) during his entire presidency. And it’s not really unfair to suggest that if Trump were still president, Putin might not have invaded.
We should also remember that Donald Trump imposed some of the largest (at the time) sanctions on Putin that had ever been seen. But he also maintained a positive relationship with him as the leader of another world power. All of this seems to be beyond the grasp of the Democrats who are running this whisper campaign.
What they’re really hoping (and nearly begging) for from Joe Biden is a way to get Trump’s name back into the conversation as they anticipate a bloodbath in the midterms. Not even the response to the Russian invasion has managed to create a bounce in Joe Biden’s poll numbers and he’s dragging down the rest of his party with him. Democrats need to find a way to make this election about Trump because they don’t really have anything else to run on. The only reason that Joe Biden is in office now is that more people voted “against Trump” than for Biden. Without Mr. Mean Tweets to run against and with the voters clearly able to see the deleterious effects of Biden’s policies on the country, they need a new demon to chase. But instead of a new one, they’re hoping to resurrect an old one.
Be careful what you wish for, Democrats. If you really start begging for more Trump, you just might get it. And there’s still plenty of time before the midterms.