For the last seven long years, the Republican party has had a loose cannon in their midst. He even became president for a single term. His name is Donald J. Trump, and his latest deplorable act is praising his good friend Vladimir Putin, the Russian president currently being condemned worldwide for invading Ukraine. While the move has been widely condemned by Democrats and much of the Republican party, there have been a few outliers heaping praise on Putin. One is Tucker Carlson. Another is Trump, who called his actions “savvy” and “genius.”
That puts fellow Republicans in a sticky situation, as Senator Tom Cotton discovered on Sunday. Appearing on ABC’s This Week, the Arkansas lawmaker — best known for a deranged New York Times op-ed in which he recommended sending the National Guard to violently suppress Black Lives Matter protests during the summer of 2020 — was asked by host George Stephanopoulos no less than four times if he would condemn Trump’s remarks. And he failed each and every time.
Stephanopoulos began gingerly, highlighting Cotton’s own critical stance of Putin’s actions and pointing out that they don’t exactly gibe with Trump, who was calling Putin “smart” just the night before during the ongoing Conservative Political Action Conference in Florida.
“If you want to know what Donald Trump thinks about Vladimir Putin or any other topic,” Cotton testily responded, “I’d encourage you to invite him on your show. I don’t speak on behalf of other politicians. They can speak for themselves.”
But Stephanopoulos was undeterred, bringing up some more of his Putin praise and asking him, “Are you prepared to condemn that kind of rhetoric from the leader of your party?”
Cotton wasn’t. “George, you heard what I had to say about Vladimir Putin: That he is a ruthless dictator who’s launched a naked, unprovoked war of aggression,” he said.
Stephanopoulos continued to grill him, asking, “Why can’t you condemn Donald Trump for those comments?”
When Cotton mostly repeated himself, Stephanopoulos dug in deeper. “You’re a senior member of the Republican party. Donald Trump is the leader of the Republican party. He said last night again, suggested that he’d be running for president. When Fox News asked him if he had a message for Vladimir Putin, he said he has no message,” he said. “Why can’t you condemn that? I feel quite confident that if … a Barack Obama or Joe Biden said something like that, you’d be first in line to criticize him.”
Cotton kept up appearances, saying, “Again, George, if you want to talk to the former president about his views or his message, you can have him on your show.”
Of course, Trump has long had a habit of saying the quiet part loud, which is almost always met with silence from members of his party. Then again, Cotton — who quietly helped Mitch McConnell thwart Trump’s plans to overturn democracy on Jan. 6 — should know full well what happens to members of his party who speak ill of the one-term former president who now rants to strangers in resorts.
You can watch Cotton’s appearance on ABC’s This Week in the video above. The back-and-forth about Trump starts around the 4:10 mark.
(Via The Guardian)