We imagine U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert recoiled at being commended by Russian state media, aka Vladimir Putin, after she and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz were filmed scrolling through their phones rather than clapping and joining standing ovations during Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky’s speech to Congress last Wednesday. In a clip shared by Russian Media Monitor, an independent project, TV host and Kremlin propagandist Dmitry Kiselyov focused on MAGA Republicans – Boebert, Gaetz and Fox News host Tucker Carlson – that greeted Zelensky and his requests for more aid with skepticism.
Kiselyov said, “All members of Congress had to shower the guest (Zelensky) with applause,” before he quoted Carlson saying they clapped “like seals.”
Kiselyov went on to say, “There were a couple of brave ones” who refused to clap and join in. Boebert being one of them.
It was a bad look. Our letters to the editor reflect this. Ben Stout, communications director for Boebert’s office, said the congresswoman did stand when Zelensky entered the House Chamber. Stout also said Boebert has previously called Putin a “thug.”
Boebert is among the Republicans in Washington, D.C., who don’t support more aid for Ukraine unless an audit is produced, ensuring money is going toward war efforts. What’s not clear is the level of detail, verification and scrutiny expected in an audit, and whether this best falls to members of Congress.
Clearly, Boebert takes an America-first position, wanting any federal funding to go to securing our southern border before more aid is provided to Ukraine. Yes, we do need real immigration reform. U.S. states along the border are struggling with resources with so many immigrants crossing. We need direct leadership from the Biden administration, clear criteria and pathways for those who qualify for citizenship.
But this is separate from aid for Ukraine.
Which situation is more of a threat to Americans? Immigrants crossing into the U.S. or Russia annihilating Ukraine, then taking complete control?
We don’t have the answers. But there’s more to it than the stance of securing the U.S. border first.
For Boebert’s part, what looked like a lack of empathy or enthusiasm for Zelensky’s country’s plight might have been something else entirely. Timing matters. Boebert’s point was lost in moments looking at her phone during standing ovations. But it was enough for Russian state media to select this clip, manipulate the message, then broadcast it.
Russian state media used Boebert, Gaetz and Carlson as pawns to forward its own anti-Ukraine – and anti-America – agenda. Never good to be noticed and approved by Putin.
Ukrainians are fighting for their most basic right – to freely live their lives – a shared, profoundly American concept. Boebert would understand this.
Besides humanitarian concerns, the United States has a strong global interest in Ukraine remaining free. The Biden administration’s choice to offer the Patriot missile system means U.S. Armed Forces are less likely to be pulled into this war if Ukrainians can defend themselves. It’s all too close for comfort with Ukrainians fleeing to Poland, a neighboring NATO country.
An attack on one is an attack on all. Maybe Boebert doesn’t realize – specifically – NATO was founded in 1949 to protect Western Europe against a Soviet attack.
Boebert’s CD3 win was narrow but, still, 169,839 people voted for her. That’s quite a lot of support. We want more grace and forethought in everything our congresswoman does. We want her to vet information, and be careful with her words and appearances.
Actions have consequences, intended or otherwise. Putin’s gaze on our representative has us – her constituents – squirming. Boebert’s image on Russian state TV is just too much.