The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Republicans’ words betray a lack of moral core

Former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice speaks during the opening ceremony of the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (ADIPEC) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Monday. (AFP via Getty Images)

The Republicans’ moral decline and perverse priorities have never been more evident than in the remarks of three Republicans who weighed in on the Ukraine scandal.

At one end of the spectrum — the one marked “repugnant” — stands former U.S. attorney Joseph diGenova. The Washington Examiner reports:

Speaking with Mary Walter and Vince Coglianese on their Washington, D.C.-based radio show Mornings on the Mall, diGenova discussed House Democrats' impeachment proceedings before turning his attention to the anonymous person who filed the complaint that launched it all.
“This is a political assassination. This is a decapitation of a president. This is regicide,” he began. "This has nothing to do with the lawful processes of the U.S. Constitution. Exhibit A: They don’t want us to identify the key person who made the accusation that started the impeachment process. . . . “The whistleblower slash anonymous informant, his name is as follows: John Wilkes Booth. That’s the name of the informant,” he said. “He worked at the CIA, and he is part of a political assassination. It’s now underway, and all of the listeners should realize that that’s what this is about. This is a fraud on the Constitution and a fraud on the American people.”

The whistleblower is no traitor, let alone a murderer. As one respected attorney put it, “That a former US Attorney compares any possible whistleblower who followed the lawful process — as openly acknowledged by the DNI and ICIG [inspector general for the intelligence community] to an assassin of the president is disgusting. And that Republicans are not condemning this type of commentary is an embarrassment to our country.”

Less vile but nevertheless reflective of a lack of character is former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. “I, in practice, don’t think it’s good for us to ever ask foreign governments to investigate Americans, but I think it goes to the fact that Americans should be investigating Americans,” she said. “And, Americans should be asking the questions of Joe Biden and asking the questions of his son, and finding out exactly what was going on with that situation and get down to the bottom of it.” We already know from multiple journalistic investigations that former vice president Joe Biden did nothing but carry out official U.S. policy against corruption in Ukraine.

Even more shameful, she declared, “I’d like for them to go back and say what President [Barack] Obama’s role was in [the Russia] situation.” His role? I believe it was to oppose Russian interference and invasion of its neighbor Ukraine, neither of which Trump can bring himself to do.

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Haley’s shameful water-carrying and willingness to smear Biden while failing to hold President Trump to a standard that would apply to any Democratic president shows how little character and patriotism count in a Republican Party blinded by tribal instincts.

Then there is former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, who was faced with Russia’s invasion of Georgia during her time in office. You would think she would be outraged by Trump’s decision to imperil Ukraine for the sake of “evidence” of conspiracy theory fodder. You’d think she would condemn outright any attempt to use presidential power in contravention of U.S. policy for private gain.

Instead, we get the mealy-mouthed language. “What I see right now troubles me. I see a state of conflict between the foreign policy professionals and someone who says he’s acting on behalf of the president but frankly I don’t know if that is the case,” Rice said. “It is troubling. It is deeply troubling,”

Fox News watchers are more committed to President Trump than other Americans. Post media critic Erik Wemple went to Fox Nation's Patriot Awards to find out why. (Video: The Washington Post, Photo: Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

She is troubled by Rudy Giuliani, although she doesn’t know (read the transcript!) if he was speaking for Trump in extorting Ukraine. Absent is any condemnation of the president’s linking aid to dirt on the Bidens in his July 25 call, or the suspension of aid that endangered an ally, or his smearing of the whistleblower and other patriots who have come forward. Nowhere does she rebuff his attacks on employees of her former department.

Rice is not alone in her reluctance to defend Foreign Service and military personnel or to call out egregious conduct by Trump. We have not heard a peep from former Republican national security officials such as Stephen Hadley or Robert Gates, with whom she served or, of course, from Trump former officials Jim Mattis, Rex Tillerson, John Bolton and H.R. McMaster. I find it more than “deeply troubling" that those in far more comfortable circumstances cannot be bothered to defend civil servants willing to risk careers and personal safety or to denounce Trump’s conduct. We do not know why their silence is a function of their attempt to maintain access, hoping to keep alive hope of being “players,” or to avoid ruffling feathers in conservative circles from which they derive book sales and speaking fees.

Now, there is no comparison between the despicable words from diGenova and the “merely” morally timid and obfuscating language of Rice, or even the dishonest smearing of Biden by Haley. However, all exemplify the character of today’s GOP — ranging from reprehensible to morally inadequate to the times. One wonders if none of these people fear the wrath of history.

Read more:

Jennifer Rubin: This is the pathetic defense Republicans are going with?

Erik Wemple: We haven’t had a bona fide ‘White House press secretary’ for months. How about ‘Special Envoy to Fox News’?

Paul Waldman: Nikki Haley’s shrewd new memoir shows how Republicans will navigate the post-Trump era

Eugene Robinson: Rank partisan solidarity is all Trump’s defenders have left

James Downie: A typical GOP senator’s shell game