It was that last part, about the $900 per family, that really got the establishment types riled up — especially at National Review. Jay Nordlinger was positively outraged, declaring Heritage to be a “moral obscenity,” while Dominic Pino penned a pair of pieces trying simultaneously to debunk the $900 figure and insist it doesn’t matter because Ukraine aid is a drop in the bucket compared to other federal spending. (Pino also argued, rather comically, that a lot of U.S. aid to Ukraine ends up lining the pockets of defense contractors, “which employ Americans and contribute to U.S. economic output,” as if funding the Ukraine war is tantamount to a U.S. jobs program, or a tool to fix the country’s industrial base.)
Having vented their frustrations with Heritage, the staff at National Review let the matter rest a while. But on Friday, Geraghty found a new cause for complaint. Heritage’s $900 talking point, it seems, has been “frequently quoted on propaganda sites run by the Russian government and Putin’s allies.” How frequently? Three times, according to an unnamed friend of Geraghty’s who monitors Russian media.
You might be thinking, so what? Heritage has no control over who quotes them, and anyway of course Russian state media will quote domestic critics of the Biden administration. They quote right-of-center U.S. media coverage of Biden’s border crisis all the time, why wouldn’t they do the same with critics of Ukraine funding? Just because bad actors latch onto an argument for their own purposes doesn’t invalidate the argument.
Geraghty begs to differ. He thinks Russian state media quoting Heritage is somehow a scathing indictment of the think tank. Not that it means the people at Heritage are “bad folks,” he’s quick to add (with the exception of Daily Signal Executive Editor Rob Bluey, at whom Geraghty directs some juvenile and needlessly personal insults in a bizarre, cringe-inducing footnote), it’s just that they’re Russian dupes. He concedes the obvious point that the foundation can’t control whether Russian state media quote them or in what context. “But if Russian state media is quoting you, it’s probably a sign that you’ve overshot the normal fair-minded range of debating U.S. policies, and strayed, perhaps inadvertently, into the territory of giving Putin’s regime useful fodder.”
Get that? Questioning unconditional, unlimited U.S. funding for Ukraine is outside “the normal fair-minded range of debating U.S. policies.” And Geraghty’s proof, to the extent he offers any, is simply that three Russian state media outlets cited a Heritage talking point.