By Robert A. Vella
Since Vladimir Putin returned as President of Russia in 2012, a truly bizarre confluence of support has been bestowed upon him from right-wing extremists, paleoconservatives, libertarians, and left-wing anarchists opposed to western neoliberalism. To say that this is a motley assemblage would be a profound understatement. Imagining a gathering of these rival groups would be akin to a wild spring break party with Neo-Nazis, the Nixon White House, an Ayn Rand convention, and hordes of Occupy Wall Street protestors.
It’s probably safe to say that such a meeting wouldn’t go so well.
However, they all seem to admire the megalomaniacal nationalist from Leningrad. They appreciate his strength as a political leader, and apparently have no love for democracy nor for the rule of law.
Media Matters observed this infatuation by conservatives last year:
Casting a wide net and always willing to promote whoever will mount attacks against President Obama, conservative commentators have recently reached out all the way to Moscow to embrace their latest champion, Russian president Vladimir Putin. The more he criticizes Obama for wanting to mount military strikes against the Syrian government for gassing its own citizens, the more Putin’s comments are cheered by conservatives here.
The newfound affection is downright bizarre considering Russia, and the former Soviet Union, has for decades been the epicenter of right wing suspicion and hostility; the proverbial Evil Empire. And in terms of the current debate regarding Syria, Putin is isolating himself from the international community. As USA Today noted this week, “Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strident defense of a Syrian regime that has killed tens of thousands of its people in a civil war that has divided him from many world powers viewing Syria as a humanitarian disaster that demands intervention.”
Outside the Beltway followed suit earlier this year:
While the American public as a whole has a largely negative view of both Vladmir Putin and Russia as a whole, there is a segment of the American public that has, over the past several years developed an oddly positive opinion of a nation that Mitt Romney, to the cheers of many on the right, called our biggest geopolitical rival, and a man who was once a top agent in the KGB. What’s odd is that these cheers are not coming from the left side of the political aisle as they might have in the 1930s, but from the right. Back in August, I observed that people such as Pat Buchanan and Rod Dreher have been heaping praise on Putin for things such as the anti-gay “propaganda” laws that he push through the Russian legislature and compared him positively to President Obama and what seems to be the new version of Buchanan’s “culture war” argument from the 1992 Presidential campaign. In December, Buchanan and Dreher were back with more praise for the Russian President and his authoritarian, anti-equality, and allegedly “pro-Christian” policies.
But, Obama Derangement Syndrome is only a part of what’s going on here. In March, PoliticusUSA noted Jon Stewart’s critique:
During the first segment of The Daily Show on Thursday night, Jon Stewart took Republicans and conservatives to school by highlighting their apparent crush on Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. In typical Stewart fashion, he used their own words against them to point out how they are showing cognitive dissonance by praising Putin for basically being a dictator and doing whatever he wants on the international stage, even though they’ve spent years complaining about how President Obama is acting like a dictator king and is using authoritarian rule in America.
After beginning the show by giving a nice little breakdown of the current events in Ukraine and how Putin has been dishonest about what Russia has done so far, Stewart moved onto how conservatives in the American media have swallowed Putin’s propaganda and fallen head over heels for him. He contrasted Germany’s Angela Merkel stating that Putin is delusional and living in his own reality with Republican figures like Ralph Peters and Rudy Giuliani stating that Putin is a real leader and is far more effective than Obama.
Also, The Libertarian Republic published this opinion:
A British Expat who lives in Lithuania set up a Facebook page recently to call out libertarians who are taking the side of Russia in the conflict over Crimea. Calling it “Confused Pro-Putin Libertarians,” Mark Splinter is using his platform to educate people on why Putin’s military invasion and sham election are illegitimate and unworthy of defense by people such as Congressman Ron Paul and others.
We interviewed Splinter on his project to find out more about his worldview and why he believes so many libertarians are confused about what’s happening in Ukraine.
And, Putin-worship is not at all confined to America. From our own Ann Novek:
In Sweden, the quite big political neo-nazi party, Sverigedemokraterna, supports Putin , and regards him as a strong man. It’s bizarre here to see the Nazis supporting Putin , together with extreme right wing conservative people.
Then, there’s this scathing rebuke of lefties from Workers’ Liberty, a Trotskyist group in Britain:
The claim that fascists control Ukraine is propaganda by Putin. To those anarchists and left-wingers who believe Putin’s propaganda about a fascist regime in Ukraine and who support Russia I say:
Take a deep breath, gormless half-wits. For many years Russia has already had something like the kind of fascism which Ukraine is accused of. Anyone who supports fascists who save a neighbouring country from fascists must be either pretty stupid or completely devoid of any conscience.
Ouch! That’s going to leave a mark! The truth can be painful sometimes.
Strange bedfellows may be opportune, but they’re likely to cause more problems than they are worth. There aren’t any good outside actors in Ukraine right now, and all this Putin-mania from the political right and left is highly irrational.
Reblogged this on Ann Novek–With the Sky as the Ceiling and the Heart Outdoors.
Thanks, Ann. 🙂
I doubt one would find a single republican in congress that is of a Putin praise mindset or that supports the ideas of dictatorship Russian style or any other. Both parties attack the opposition’s president with all kinds of nonsense. The problem is that elements of both parties believe it.
Although I understand your sentiment, I’ll respectfully disagree. The conservative movement in America is much larger than just the elected Republicans in Congress. And, few if any of those legislators have publicly criticized the admiration of Putin’s leadership, regarding Ukraine, Syria, and Russia’s anti-gay laws, which have been stated repeatedly by their fellow conservatives.
Furthermore, the assertion that “both parties attack the opposition’s president” is a false equivalence. What the GOP has been doing to undermine this President’s foreign and domestic agenda is demonstrably worse – by a huge margin – than what his predecessor was subjected to from Democrats.
It is a given that political rhetoric often does not reflect truthful opinion, but it has great consequences in the public arena. Unfortunately, average citizens can rarely tell the difference.
Supposedly, all you need to bundle the most heterogeneous groups, is a single common enemy. That’s dangerous, as we have seen it before.
Good observation, Mord.