On Saturday, writing for the Washington Post, conservative columnist Max Boot laid into House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) for accusing Democrats of "Soviet-style" impeachment proceedings — and gave him a reminder that "Soviet-style" actually looks more like "Trump and his commissars."
"This will be compelling to those who are so ignorant of history that they think the Soviets bothered with hearings where a minority party could cross-examine witnesses and vociferously defend the accused," wrote Boot. "Spoiler alert: They didn’t have minority parties in the Soviet Union, and they didn’t have constitutional proceedings either. The Soviets’ preferred method of disposing of dissidents was a bullet to the back of the head or a train trip to the gulag. When they had trials at all, the proceedings were shams in which the defendant typically confessed to imaginary offenses after having been tortured or threatened with retaliation against his family."
"The irony is that if anyone is exhibiting a 'Soviet-style' mind-set, it’s not the Democrats," continued Boot. "It’s the party whose supreme leader claims he is a 'stable genius,' that he knows more about every subject than any expert (e.g., 'I know more about ISIS than the generals do'), and that in his 'great and unmatched wisdom,' he can do no wrong. This is all too reminiscent of the way that Soviet propaganda deified Joseph Stalin as a 'genius,' 'our best collective farm worker,' 'our shockworker,' the 'beloved' and wise 'Father of Nations.'"
"Soviet apparatchiks once competed to sing the praises of the party leader," wrote Boot. "Now with polls showing that roughly half of the country favors the president’s impeachment and removal, retired Army colonel Douglas Macgregor proclaimed on Fox News: 'Donald Trump plays chess in multiple dimensions simultaneously. He has now checkmated all of his potential opponents, his competitors.' Trump’s own press secretary swatted aside recent criticism from former chief of staff John F. Kelly, saying, 'I worked with John Kelly, and he was totally unequipped to handle the genius of our great president.'"
"At meetings of the Supreme Soviet, party leaders knew they had to show lockstep loyalty — or else," wrote Boot. "For some reason I was reminded of this when a reporter asked House Republican leaders: 'Will you all go on record and say that the president did nothing inappropriate?' House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) immediately led fellow Republicans in a robotic chant of 'yes' despite overwhelming evidence that the president used military aid to try to extort Ukraine into helping his reelection campaign."
"Just as Soviets were once fed the party line from Pravda, so now Republicans get it from Fox News," wrote Boot. "Thus Republicans purport to believe Trump’s farcical claim that his conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — in which Trump demanded an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and of matters supposedly related to the 2016 campaign hacking — was 'perfect.' They see nothing amiss when Trump tweets that the 'Impeachment Hoax is hurting our Stock Market' and the very next day boasts 'Stock Market up BIG!' Anything that the supreme leader says, no matter how nonsensical or contradictory, must be true; anything that casts him in a negative light, no matter how accurate and well-documented, must be false."
"Stalin purged former allies known as the Old Bolsheviks in the 1930s because he saw them as a threat to his personal rule," wrote Boot. "Trump takes delight in maligning old Republicans, claiming that the late Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) wasn’t a war hero because he was captured, and that Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah) is a 'pompous ass' who is 'playing right into the hands of the Do Nothing Democrats.' Trump’s purge has been all too successful, as seen from the House GOP unanimously voting against impeachment proceedings. Trump has even appropriated the very terms that Stalin employed for his foes by calling them 'human scum' and the 'enemy of the people.'"
"No wonder Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who emigrated to the United States as a child from the Soviet Union, felt compelled to speak out about the quid pro quo that Trump demanded from Ukraine," concluded Boot. "His family, like mine, is all too familiar with where a political cult of personality can lead. We’ve seen Soviet-style tactics before — and not in the Democrats’ pursuit of a constitutional process of impeachment."
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