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Pelosi Compares Zelensky to Winston Churchill Ahead of Speech to Congress

Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP

As Katie reported earlier on Wednesday, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky's surprise visit to the United States — his first since Russia invaded his country more than 300 days ago — will include a meeting at the White House with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris and a joint press conference before the wartime leader addresses a joint session of Congress at 7:30 Wednesday evening. 

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The invitation to speak before Congress was extended by outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who gushed effusively about her "immense respect and admiration for [Zelensky's] extraordinary leadership" and sent a follow-up Dear Colleague letter to her fellow lawmakers ahead of his remarks to Congress. 

"It is with great pride and solemnity that, tonight, we will welcome President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine to address a Joint Meeting of Congress," Pelosi wrote to members of Congress in a similarly fan-girling tone. "As the fight for freedom in Ukraine wages on, we look forward to hearing his inspiring message of courage, unity and determination."

But then, her laudatory letter went even further, comparing Zelensky and his speech to Congress to another world leader who previously addressed a joint session of Congress:

On a personal note: this is a moment fraught with meaning for me. My father, Congressman Thomas D’Alesandro, Jr., was a Member of the House in 1941 when Winston Churchill came to the Congress on the day after Christmas to enlist our nation's support in the fight against tyranny in Europe. Eighty-one years later this week, it is particularly poignant for me to be present when another heroic leader addresses the Congress in a time of war - and with Democracy itself on the line.

Whoa, there Nancy. First, the United States is not "in a time of war." Russia didn't invade Alaska, hasn't threatened to use tactical nukes on San Francisco, and — thanks to the Biden administration's attempts to revive a nuke deal with Iran — has been working with the United States in a limited capacity. 

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What's more, Europe is not at war with Russia, either — Ukraine is. What Russia is trying to do is certainly bad and ought to be condemned and its leaders punished for trying to expand their empire by force, but this is not World War III no matter how many want it to be. 

It wasn't sanctions and strongly worded statements that stopped the Nazis and liberated Europe. It was a full-blown world war that required leaders like Churchill to guide his people through the horrors of war and on to victory with the help of the United States and other allies to crush the German forces and drive them back to their own borders. 

But in Ukraine, we still don't know what the ultimate objective is for which the U.S. is providing assistance. Driving Russia completely out of Ukraine? Allowing them to take the Donbas? What about Crimea? Is a cease-fire even on the table to begin peace talks? What would be necessary to begin negotiations? Will concessions be a part of an armistice? How much of Ukraine may be given up in order to stop the war and indiscriminate missile, drone, and rocket attacks? How long will the United States supply and fund Ukraine's war effort, and are there any benchmarks that must be met in order to keep aid flowing?

Despite not knowing these answers, leaders like Pelosi, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Biden are all-in on making aid to Ukraine the "number one priority" for the United States as 2022 ends and 2023 begins — despite a mountain of domestic crises that deserve priority status — while they continue tripping over themselves to gush about Zelensky's leadership. It's one thing — and often a good thing — to help another country fight back against totalitarian thugs, but it's another to offer what is basically a blank check with no expectation of what the outcome will be.

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Pelosi's excitement is unsurprising, given that her official Speaker of the House website still prominently features a photo of her with Ukraine's president as if she's speaker of the Verkhovna Rada — Supreme Council of Ukraine. 

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