When President Biden appeared in Kyiv on Monday, he was met with two reactions.
One was support from Ukrainians and from American politicians — in this case, Democratic and Republican — who back U.S. aid to the country’s war effort.
But the other, from a mixture of MAGA and further-right Republicans, was to suggest that Biden was neglecting the U.S. by appearing in Ukraine.
Pick your issue.
Immigration? Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) tweeted that Biden “has now spent more time in Ukraine than he has at our southern border,” accusing him of ignoring an “AMERICAN crisis.”
Nearly all of the commentary has the same unstated assumption: that U.S. support for anything, domestic or foreign, is a zero sum game. Help to Ukraine, in this telling, means that Americans are somehow being deprived.
Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) of 2020 Trump coup plot fame made a statement along similar lines, saying that it was “breathtaking” for Biden to appear in Ukraine to ensure their border is secure, while he “can’t do the same for America.”
If the border analogy that Perry drew seems too blunt and nonsensical, others tried to contrast Biden’s Ukraine trip with his absence in East Palestine, Ohio, the town that was victim of a recent Norfolk Southern train crash that resulted in chemical contamination.
“When Ohio burns with toxic chemicals, Biden’s admin says everything is fine,” wrote Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) on Twitter. “So on Presidents’ Day, I’m not surprised that Biden is ditching America for Ukraine. He ditched America’s interests since the start of his presidency. They can keep him!”
There’s a broader GOP effort ongoing to portray the Ohio derailment as the fault of government, and not monolithic corporate interests. But here, the disaster in Ohio serves more as a convenient prop to repeat the argument that support for Ukraine somehow means less support for America — a binary decision.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) continued to occupy her niche as rhetorically the most extreme of the bunch, saying that Biden’s trip was “incredibly insulting.”
“Biden didn’t go to East Palestine, Ohio on President’s Day,” she wrote. “He went to Ukraine, a NON-NATO nation, whose leader is an actor and is apparently now commanding our United States military to world war.”
Rep. Greene added that Biden was “America Last” and should be impeached.
Former President Donald Trump has so far only addressed the visit obliquely.
“If you watch and understand the moves being made by Biden on Ukraine, he is systematically, but perhaps unknowingly, pushing us into what could soon be WORLD WAR III,” he wrote on Truth Social. “How crazy is that?”