Conservative columnist calls for more ‘emotion’ about Russian atrocities in Ukraine

Conservative columnist calls for more ‘emotion’ about Russian atrocities in Ukraine

John Kirby, the top spokesperson for the Pentagon, became quite emotional during a Friday, April 29 press conference — vehemently calling out Russian President Vladimir Putin over its invasion of Ukraine and slamming hm over the atrocities being committed against Ukrainian civilians. Kirby apologized for becoming emotional and said, “I don’t want to make this about me.” But Washington Post opinion writer and Never Trumper Jennifer Rubin, in her May 2 column, stresses that Kirby has nothing to apologize for.

At the press conference, Kirby announced that U.S. forces are offering Ukrainian forces training on key systems at U.S. military installations in Germany. Kirby didn’t mince words about Putin’s actions in Ukraine, telling reporters, “It’s hard to look at what he’s doing in Ukraine, what his forces are doing in Ukraine and think that any ethical, moral individual could justify that…. It’s difficult to look at some of the images and imagine that any well-thinking, serious, mature leader would do that. So, I can’t talk to his psychology. But I think we can all speak to his depravity.”

In her May 2 column, Rubin applauds Kirby for criticizing Putin so forcefully — and wishes that other leaders in the U.S. would be that forceful.

“Kirby apologized for injecting emotion into the briefing, but he had nothing to be sorry about,” Rubin emphasizes. “To the contrary, we have a shortage of righteous anger and outrage when encountering monstrous evil. When President Biden declares Putin is committing genocide, the media appears to recoil. Can he say that? Did he clear that with anyone?”

Rubin adds, “When Biden exclaimed, in March, ‘For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,’ his own staff had a conniption fit and tried to walk it back.”

Pentagon briefing with Press Secretary John Kirby

Typically, Rubin notes, Kirby combines a “Joe Friday, just-the-facts demeanor with encyclopedic knowledge of his material.” Sgt. Joe Friday was the fictional Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) detective the late Jack Webb played on “Dragnet” for many years — first the radio show starting in 1949, then the black-and-white television series of the 1950s, then the color reboot in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

“When (Kirby) goes on an emotional riff,” Rubin writes, “it’s worth taking note.” And Kirby showed his emotional side when he told reporters, “Pregnant women being killed; hospitals being bombed — I mean, it’s just unconscionable…. I don’t think we fully appreciated the degree to which he would visit that kind of violence and cruelty and, as I said, depravity, on innocent people, on — on noncombatants, on — on civilians.… with such utter disregard for the lives he was taking.”

Rubin concludes her column by saying that Kirby did his part to combat “cynicism” during the April 29 press briefing.

“Certainly, as conspiracies, propaganda and disinformation gush forth, it can be exhausting to maintain moral indignation and defend the truth,” Rubin writes. “But too often, politicians, the media and ‘opinion makers” pave the way toward authoritarianism by spreading moral paralysis, fatalism and just plain boredom when we should be arming ourselves to combat fatalism and defeatism. That begins, as Kirby suggested, with using our imagination and vocabulary to call out ‘depravity’ in all its forms.”


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