Ever since war hero and National Security Council official Alexander Vindman came forward with his concerns about Donald Trump’s attempt to pressure Ukraine into launching an investigation into former vice president Joe Biden, he has been the target of all manner of smears and threats. One would think that a 20-year Army veteran and decorated war hero would be immune from such pigweed. But in the era of Trump, it seems that anyone can be the target of a really low blow.
One of the lowest of those blows came from Tennessee’s junior Senator, Marsha Blackburn. She recently moved to the Senate in 2019 after spending eight terms in the House, and didn’t take long to show her true colors. She objected to a bill that would have required campaigns to alert the FBI about any offers of foreign help. Her reasoning? It would have been too “overbroad.” Never mind that this bill, proposed by Mark Warner of Virginia, would have added teeth to a long-standing ban on campaigns knowingly accepting help from foreign actors.
When a United States Senator thinks an effort to strike a blow in favor of the very foundation of democracy is “overbroad,” it’s only fair to wonder if said Senator’s moral compass is warped. Well, on Friday, Blackburn did something that led a lot of people to wonder if she has any moral compass at all. She took to Twitter to fire off a cheap shot at Vindman.
Blackburn has been particularly vehement about demanding the unmasking of the person whose complaint caused the Ukraine scandal to snowball. Never mind that the whistleblower has been living in fear of his life due to relentless trolling, smears and threats that go all the way to the White House.
But suggesting Vindman was running interference for him? It’s hard to tell what’s sadder–that a United States Senator would find it at all acceptable to fire off a low blow at a decorated war hero who came forward with his concerns despite knowing the risks, or that over 44,000 people (as of Tuesday night) seemed to think this was acceptable.
Blackburn was relentlessly and deservedly savaged on Twitter for her comments. So she followed the usual script for a Republican politician who is getting put through the wringer–stop by Fox News. Specifically, the network’s late night news program, “Fox News @ Night.”
Blackburn sat down with host Shannon Bream to discuss Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’ investigation into the Russia probe. The discussion soon turned to her tweet about Vindman. Watch here.
At around the 4:20 mark, Bream showed Blackburn a tweet from Washington Post columnist and prominent never-Trumper Jennifer Rubin, in which Rubin called Blackburn’s attack on Vindman a “disgrace.” When Bream asked Blackburn if she stood by that tweet, Blackburn replied, with no hesitation, that she did.
That came as no surprise. What came as a surprise was seeing Blackburn googol down on her earlier low blow. She claimed that Vindman “defied his chain of command” and went after Trump because “the president wasn’t taking his advice.” Earlier, Blackburn claimed Vindman’s supervisor had expressed concern about his supposed poor judgment and disregarding the chain of command.
She then wagged her finger at Vindman for going after “not just a colleague,” but “the commander-in-chief. And he was doing so over–horrors!–a “policy disagreement.”
Really, Marsha? So when the president tries to pressure one of his foreign counterparts into joining in a politically motivated investigation, it’s just a “policy disagreement”? And if you’re concerned about Vindman doing an end run around his chain of command, haven’t you considered that there are certain situations where you almost have to bypass your chain of command? You would think that a president who is abusing his power and bending foreign policy for his own political gain would be one of those situations.
Through all of this, Bream sat there impassively–which is breathtaking, since “Fox News @ Night” is supposedly a hard news program. She never even once challenged Blackburn, even when it was apparent she had no qualms about hitting Vindman with such a low blow.
Perhaps Blackburn thinks she has license to spew such bilge. Before going to the Senate, she represented a district in the very wealthy and very Republican suburbs of Nashville and Memphis, and her lowest winning percentage was 66 percent. She then ran for Senate while openly branding herself as a bomb-throwing conservative, as evidenced in a video announcing her candidacy.
It was initially thought that her hard-right profile wouldn’t play well in a state that has usually elected more sober Republicans. But she defeated former governor Phil Bredesen by an unexpectedly wide 11-point margin; the race was actually called for her less than half an hour after the polls closed.
Apparently Blackburn thought that such a resounding victory gave her carte blanche to be as wingnutty and unhinged as she pleased. Well, in 2020, we need to disabuse her of this notion. Pigweed like this should be extra motivation to get out and vote. After all, when Republicans are in the majority, people like Marsha Blackburn are empowered.
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