J.D. Vance was famously not a fan of Donald Trump ahead of the 2016 election. The Hillbilly Elegy author and venture capitalist called the soon-to-be president “reprehensible” and an “idiot,” and even wrote a piece comparing Trumpism to opioid addiction. Vance is now trying to win the Republican nomination for Senate in Ohio, and wouldn’t you know it, he’s done quite a bit of warming up to the man he once reviled. He was asked to explained himself Sunday night during a primary debate, and went ahead and called Trump the “greatest president of my lifetime.”
“All of us say stupid things, and I happen to say stupid things very publicly,” Vance said of his past comments. “I’ve been very public about the fact that I voted for the president in 2020 and that I was wrong about the president back in 2015/2016, and that he’s been the greatest president of my lifetime.”
After calling Trump and “idiot,” “noxious,” and “reprehensible” in 2016, JD Vance now says he is the greatest president in his lifetime. pic.twitter.com/iGDBMZWMV9
— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) March 21, 2022
Vance’s admiration for Trump is contrived out of his desire to win over his voters, as are his positions on basically everything else — including Russia. It gets a little tricky here, though, as the MAGA sect’s position on Putin and Ukraine has been a little confused. So too, then, has Vance’s.
Vance began by hitching himself to the same talking point as a handful of other Putin-curious Republicans, which is that America should be worried about the “invasion” at the U.S.-Mexico border rather than the one taking place in Europe. “I gotta be honest with you, I don’t really care what happens to Ukraine,” he said on Steve Bannon’s podcast last month. “I do care about the fact that in my community right now the leading cause of death among 18-45 year olds is Mexican fentanyl that’s coming across the southern border.”
Days later, after Putin invaded, Vance released a lengthy statement expressing concern for the “innocent people caught in the crossfire.” The point here was not necessarily that the invasion is a “tragedy,” as he described it, but that it’s a tragedy he realized he can use to praise Trump and bash Biden. “Trump deserves an incredible amount of credit for the strength and diplomatic engagement that kept Putin in check,” he wrote, “and Biden an equal amount of blame for his lack of leadership.”
The wheel spun around once again Tuesday morning, however, with Vance going back on Bannon’s podcast to admit that he couldn’t care less. “I don’t care enough about what’s going on over there that I’m going to step in it, get a bunch of our citizens killed and pour more and more money into the war sinkhole while we’ve got our own problems here at home,” he said.
What are the problems at home? “I’ve got to be honest with you, Steve, when I wake up in the morning, I worry about whether my five-year-old son is going to interact with a sex trafficker,” he said before complaining about the moderators at the previous night’s debate. “That’s what I care the most about. I worry about whether some kid in his class, if his parents are going to die of a heroin overdose.”
Vance went on to cite the southern border, the “demographic transformation in this country,” and abortion, but his flip-flopping makes pretty clear that what he actually cares the most about is whatever his consultants, Fox News, and Trump tell him to.