Try digitalPLUS for 10 days for only $0.99

Opinion

News Opinion

Who's got a crush on Putin? The American right wing [Commentary]

It is rather curious, given the American conservative movement's long and dramatic history of anti-Communism and anti-Russian saber rattling, that many leading voices on the right are speaking about Russian President Vladimir Putin with varying degrees of admiration.

For some, it is just a matter of comparing Mr. Putin's toughness to President Barack Obama's alleged weakness. Without suggesting any love for Mr. Putin, Republicans in Congress have asserted that Russia's incursion into Ukraine would not have happened had Mr. Obama not been such a wimp in his dealings with Moscow.

This line has been pushed especially hard by the foreign policy Tweedledee and Tweedledum of the Senate GOP caucus, John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio echoed that sentiment at the CPAC conference inWashington, D.C., on Thursday.

"We cannot ignore that the flawed foreign policy of the last few years has brought us to this stage, because we have a president who believed but by the sheer force of his personality he would be able to shape global events," Mr. Rubio said.

The GOP chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers, said Mr. Putin is playing chess while Obama is playing marbles.

Other conservatives have taken this critique a step or two further. On Fox News, ex-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani declared that Mr. Putin has shown what leadership is by acting boldly and rapidly to assert his nation's interests in Crimea. Also on Fox, right-wing celebrity Sarah Palin suggested the Russian president is far manlier than the U.S. president.

"Obama, the perception of him and his 'potency' across the world is one of such weakness," Mr. Palin said. "Lookit: People are looking at Putin as one who wrestles bears and drills for oil. They look at our president as one who wears mom jeans and equivocates and bloviates."

In recent days, Rush Limbaugh has surprised himself (so he says) by finding admirable qualities in Mr. Putin that Mr. Obama lacks. He joins the ranks of numerous social conservatives, such as Pat Buchanan, who were already Mr. Putin fans due to his support for the Russian Orthodox Church and his opposition to gay rights.

In December, Mr. Buchanan wrote a column lauding Mr. Putin for his opposition to same-sex marriage. "While his stance as a defender of traditional values has drawn the mockery of Western media and cultural elites, Putin is not wrong in saying that he can speak for much of mankind," Buchanan wrote. "...He is seeking to redefine the 'Us vs. Them' world conflict of the future as one in which conservatives, traditionalists and nationalists of all continents and countries stand up against the cultural and ideological imperialism of what he sees as a decadent West."

All of this suggests two things. One is that conservatives despise Barack Obama as much as they ever detested any Soviet leader and so they give more slack to Russia's president than they do to their own. The other is that today's conservatives like their leaders to be testosterone-driven tough guys who dispense with niceties and nuance.

Oh, how happy they would be if they could find their own Vladimir Putin to run for president in 2016.

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Horsey is a political commentator for the Los Angeles Times. Go tolatimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/ to see more of his work.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Charm City Circulator [Poll]

    Charm City Circulator [Poll]

    Did Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake make a good call in limiting cuts to the Charm City Circulator routes, at the expense of something else?

  • Middle skill jobs get short shrift

    Middle skill jobs get short shrift

    The Baltimore region is justifiably proud of strong companies in cutting edge fields like cybersecurity and biotech, with a workforce powered by our world-class universities and colleges. High-tech, higher education-driven industries are our future, but we also must double down on the training...

  • The GOP's four advantages

    The GOP's four advantages

    Our political system remains polarized and divided between the two major parties, but in our present era of division the Republicans benefit from what I call four interconnected and mutually-reinforcing "structural asymmetries." Allow me to unpack each.

  • The Circulator's troubling finances

    The Circulator's troubling finances

    The Charm City Circulator bus system in and around downtown Baltimore is clean, reliable and attractive, and people have come to depend on it. The buses are useful for tourists but also have become a primary way for people in their coverage area to commute and run errands. In all, it's an important...

  • Dealing with guns demands more than another moment of silence

    Dealing with guns demands more than another moment of silence

    In President Barack Obama's moving eulogy from Charleston, he talked about horrific atrocities like the shooting that took nine lives in Emanuel A.M.E. church and the rampant violence that exists in communities all across our country.

  • Infrastructure is key to U.S. energy future

    Infrastructure is key to U.S. energy future

    Federal, state and local officials are typically ready to find the money required to fix problems when it comes to highway infrastructure. As a former governor, I know this is good politics. Infrastructure creates jobs, and people appreciate tangible improvements to highways and bridges. Here,...

Comments
Loading

86°