“Senator Tom Cotton refused four times on Sunday to condemn or even comment on Donald Trump’s repeated praise for Vladimir Putin, the Russian president who ordered the invasion of Ukraine. ‘If you want to know what Donald Trump thinks about Vladimir Putin or any other topic,’ Cotton told ABC’s This Week, ‘I’d encourage you to invite him on your show. I don’t speak on behalf of other politicians.’” — The Guardian, 2/27/22
Thanks for inviting me on your show to talk about the situation in Ukraine. You might think it would be easy for me to condemn Trump for praising Putin as “savvy” and his violent maneuvers as “genius” since I am no fan of Vladimir Putin and have fiercely advocated for a stronger American response to Russia’s invasion of a sovereign nation. But I must stick to my metaphorical guns and commit to my seconds-long-held practice of not speaking on behalf of other politicians.
Well, not all politicians; in fact, I will speak on behalf of pretty much any politician when push comes to shove. I will analyze, attack, and question the judgment of President Biden, his entire administration, any Democrat in Congress, NATO, most of my colleagues in the Senate, and anyone actively holding or pursuing any state, local, or federal government position, just to name a few.
You keep badgering me to comment on whatever it was that Trump said, and I keep ignoring you. Aren’t you tired? Look, Trump’s comments and I are just two ships in the night: I do not see them, hear them, or acknowledge their existence even if I do see and hear them.
Remember when I denounced my colleagues’ plan to object to certifying the 2020 Electoral College results, and Trump tweeted at me? A public presidential rebuke, woof. That’s not a doghouse any self-respecting, calculating Republican wants to be in. Fortunately, nothing came of that, as there were bigger fish to fry come January 6th. What’s that? How do I feel about the Capitol Insurrection now? You almost got me there! I would never, ever, ever speak on behalf of another politician, myself included.
It’s like Schrödinger’s Cat, in the sense that I will never give you a straight answer, and we may or may not all be dead already anyway. I don’t speak on behalf of other politicians. This is a truism by which I have always abided and did not make up moments ago to avoid answering your question.
Look, here’s how I navigate every interview. Before answering any questions, I T.H.I.N.K.:
- Is it about TRUMP? (If yes, then I don’t speak on behalf of other politicians.)
- Is it HATEFUL? (Depends on whether my rebuke of it will risk losing the backing of my richest supporters.)
- Does it involve something potentially ILLEGAL? (If yes, then it depends on whether it involves a Republican or a Democrat.)
- How will it benefit me to say something, or preferably NOTHING? (If there is no clear personal gain, then I don’t speak on behalf of other politicians.)
- And, finally, will the press KEEP inviting me back to their shows if I ignore their questions and push my own agenda? (If the last answer is yes, which it always is, then again, I stick with my firmly held belief of not speaking on behalf of other politicians whenever I do not want to do that.)
Hope that clears things up. Lines must be drawn, and I draw mine by refusing to say anything about Trump praising Vladimir Putin, the dictator waging an illegal war whom I have openly condemned on many occasions. So again, if you want to know what I think about Trump’s comments, sit back while I change the subject and avoid speaking on behalf of another politician, something I have always done. After all, there is a special place in Congress for those who remain neutral in a time of crisis. That’s what I always say—at least, what I might theoretically say, depending on who’s asking.
Anyway, thanks for having me on your show. I look forward to joining you again next week.