About a year ago, after President Obama imposed another round of sanctions on Russia, Vladimir Putin responded by imposing entry bans on several U.S. officials, including members of Congress. The listed Americans couldn’t have been more pleased.
Russia’s edict targeted a bipartisan group, including John Boehner, Harry Reid, and John McCain. Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu (D) was included, and she was so happy about it, the incumbent senator actually included the Russian rebuke in one of her re-election ads.
Soon, much of Congress was filled with lawmakers wondering what they could do to annoy Putin and get included on the same list. It was a badge of honor that lawmakers were eager to wear – “You think Putin hates you? No, no, Putin hates me.”
A year later, U.S. politicians are less interested in making Putin’s enemies list and more interested in getting noticed by ISIS. BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski reported yesterday:
Speaking with the Lars Larson Show, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum noted he was featured in ISIS’ online magazine.“I don’t know if you know this but last month I was featured in an online, it was the magazine of ISIS,” said Santorum. “They had a picture of me and quote in their magazine under the words, ‘in the words of our enemies.’ That was the headline of the article.”“I make the comment, they know who I am and I know who they are,” Santorum added on a phrase he used in his announcement speech.
Really, can you blame Santorum for trying to exploit this? ISIS radicals may not fully appreciate this, but their condemnation is arguably better than any single endorsement an American presidential candidate can receive from anyone on the planet.
Santorum is now in a position to turn to any of his 2016 rivals and say, “Sure, we both intend to destroy ISIS, but I didn’t see you identified in an ISIS magazine as their enemy….”
And it’s not just Santorum, either. Roll Call’s Steven Dennis noted that John McCain boasted just yesterday that both he and Lindsey Graham were featured in an ISIS magazine.
On Twitter, McCain was quite enthusiastic about this, publishing a screen-grab of an ISIS article that identified him and Graham as “crusaders” and “enemies.”
I can only imagine how many members of Congress are meeting with their staffs, kicking around ideas as to how to get ISIS to call them out by name, too.