Last month, when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was but a couple weeks old — and not nearing its second month — Sean Hannity did something he loves to do with Donald Trump: He gave him an easy question. It was a different kind of gesture, though: Instead of trying to make him look stronger than he is, Hannity gave him the chance to look decent. He repeatedly tried to get Trump to condemn Vladimir Putin. And Trump kept refusing.
A month later, he gave him a Mulligan. And he still couldn’t do it. During a call-in on Wednesday night — during which the former president ranted again about one of his weirder pet obsessions: the idea that windmills are bad and kill bald eagles — Hannity circled back to the idea that the Russian invasion is “evil.”
Hannity (again) tries to get Trump to condemn Putin. Trump won't do it, and instead rants about NATO. pic.twitter.com/i8XcMGeI6V
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 14, 2022
Could Trump slam his buddy a month — and untold atrocities — later? He could not. Instead he ranted about NATO, reserving his ire for the international alliance that has stood up to Russia, not for Russia itself. (He seems to hate windmills more than he hates Russia.) Turns out he’s still steaming about his theory that some nations weren’t paying as much into the group as the United States were.
New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait had a theory about that, claiming it torpedoes one of Trumpist’s battier theories: that Trump was, as Chait put it, “cleverly trying to strengthen the alliance all along by prodding fellow members to increase their defense spending.” Trump’s rant helped “dispel” that notion, as Chait explained:
What truly gave the game away was when Trump segued to his economic grievances with western Europe. “And then they take advantage of us on trade,” he ranted to Hannity, revising his long-standing claim that western Europe is the true enemy of the American people (“Every bit as bad as China”). It is beyond obvious that Trump’s insults to NATO allies were not intended to strengthen their commitment but a bad-faith demand put forward as a pretext for the United States to abandon the alliance altogether. (Several of Trump’s former national security advisers have said Trump would have done so in a second term, and the loss of this expected outcome is the best explanation of why Putin decided to invade Ukraine now.)
Chait goes on to postulate that, had Trump been re-elected (or re-instated, as Mike Lindell has long wished), NATO would be no more, Putin would go unpunished, and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, whom he tried to extort and only succeeded in getting himself impeached, “would probably at this moment be in exile, in a Russian prison, or dead.”
In any case, maybe Hannity can try again with Trump in May. Perhaps third time’s the charm?