Amy Klobuchar: Hick Imperialist

What does she actually know about Russia or Ukraine? Probably less than she knows about Mexico.

There’s been a lot written about the horribleness of Senator Amy Klobuchar — from the way she abuses her staff, to her nativism, to record as a prosecutor, to her generally corrupt right-neoliberal Democratic politics — like the fact that she fought on behalf of a local billionaire monopolist to allow frozen pizza to be classified as a vegetable in school lunches. Because healthy food’s for commies!

And in a recent Telemundo interview she showed yet another facet of her winning personality: her arrogant hick imperialism. Turns out she doesn’t know a single thing about Mexico, not even the name of the Mexican president — and that’s despite being a career pol who’s sat in the Senate for 13 years. She says she “cares about immigrants” and wants the Hispanic vote. But she can’t be bothered to do even the most basic prep for a softball interview on a major Spanish-language network.

It’s brutal. You can almost hear her inner monologue: “How could this Mexican do this to me!!!!!? Does he know who I am? I bet this little fucker is undocumented. He looks undocumented.” It’s worthy of Selina Meyer, but without any of the charm.

Remember that this a sitting Senator — a person who’s supposed to be the smart and credentialed technocratic opposition to Donald’s Trump’s ignorant populism. That’s how corrupt and degraded our political system is. And it gets even grimmer when you consider that the New York Times co-endorsed Senator Klobuchar in part because of her foreign policy experience. As far as I can tell this “foreign” experience pretty close to zero. Do bullshit delegation trips and photo ops count as experience?

The Telemundo interview reminded me of something else about Senator Klobuchar’s pro-immigrant outreach: her pandering to Minnesota’s nationalist Ukrainian immigrant community.

By some estimates, Minnesota is home to 10,000 Ukrainian-Americans. A big part of this community dates back to the end of World War II, when a 1948 immigration law (which was written to keep out Jewish survivors of the Holocaust) let in thousands of displaced Eastern Europeans into America. A big chunk of those that came had been Nazi collaborators in one shape or form — some directly participated in genocide, others simply helped administer the occupation. Reading through local obituaries in the Ukrainian community, you see the same telltale family life pattern: fought the Soviets, retreated with the Germans, ended up in a displaced persons camp in Europe, came to America.

Of course, not every Ukrainian in Minnesota was a Nazi collaborator or descended from one. Not at all. But there are (well, mostly were — a lot of them have probably died of natural causes by now) Nazi collabos among them.

It doesn’t seem like Senator Klobuchar ever had particularly deep ties to Minnesota’s Ukrainian nationalist diaspora. But she has definitely pandered to it in a big way — especially after Donald Trump won the 2016 election. Since then, she’s been using Ukraine as an opportunity to showcase her serious, bipartisan get tough on Russia foreign policy.

Exhibit A: On December 31, 2016, she showed up in Eastern Ukraine with her two Republican pals —  John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Marie Yovanovitch, the American ambassador to Ukraine, was also there. All of them were being hosted by Ukraine’s disgraced chocolate oligarch-president Petro Poroshenko.

They met with solders, wished them a Happy New Year, and patted them on the back for killing Russians. “Yippieeee! Look at all those big and powerful sniper rifles! They look like they’re made in the USA! Perfect for killing Russians with!”

Klobuchar: From Minnesota Cop to World Cop

In photos and videos of the trip, McCain seems like he’s barely holding on to life — he’s got that unfocused death stare. But everyone else, including Klobuchar, is smiling and having a good time. And why not? The weapons, the sturdy young Ukrainian soldiers, the smell of gunpowder and sweat, the New Year festivities, the snow, the dangerous Russians so near — it must have been an intoxicating mix.

Klobuchar would later joke that maybe the three of them were having a bit too good of a time there: “I spent the last week of last year with John McCain and Lindsey Graham in the Baltics and in Georgia and in Ukraine. And we were literally on the frontline with the Ukrainian troops on New Year’s Eve. Right? Which one do you kiss? We got both those guys there?” Which one do you kiss?

That one trip to the trenches made her an expert on Russia and Ukraine and a firm supporter of the “Ukraine Doctrine” — the idea that if America doesn’t fight Russia and kill Russians in Ukraine, Russia is going to invade the free world. From that point on there doesn’t seem to be a single speech in which she doesn’t mention it as an example of her deep foreign policy experience — and the reason why she takes the Russian threat so seriously. She’s been on the frontline, man! In the trenches! With John McCain! In a blizzard! What have you done?

All this posturing has seems to have paid off as far as Klobuchar’s Ukrainian constituency is concerned. You even saw Ukrainian flags being waved at the rally where she announced her run for the presidency. (Imagine how the media would react if someone unfurled a Russian flag at a Bernie Sanders event?)

But what does she actually know about Russia or Ukraine? Probably less than she knows about Mexico.

Senator Klobuchar wants to be the leader of our global military empire and yet she’s aggressively ignorant. And that naturally makes her a perfect candidate — at last as far as the corporate spooks who actually run the empire are concerned. She’ll just go along with whatever they feed her, so long as she can stay in power.

And Klobuchar isn’t special. She’s just an example of the aggressively ignorant people who run our bloody empire. They’re ignorant in a way that people in other countries — especially the ones who are on the receiving end of our power — can’t afford to be. But America has power and empire to burn!

—Yasha Levine

Immigrants as a Weapon is a new investigative newsletter that looks at the weaponization of nationalism and immigrant communities. Check out this introductory post

Catch up on some Immigrants as a Weapon reading:

  1. Weaponizing Fascism for Democracy: The Beginning

  2. Trump's Impeachment, Ukraine, and War With Russia

  3. Despite a Jewish President, Ukraine keeps honoring Nazi collabos (with a bit of help from America)

  4. America Sponsors Far-Right Holocaust Revisionist Exhibit in Kiev