The lackluster response of the Obama administration to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put liberals in desperation mode. Unable to defend their actions or lack thereof, liberals are now doing what they do best — blaming conservatives.
In this instance, liberals are claiming that conservatives are in love with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Within days, Isaac Chotiner of the New Republic, David Horsey of the Los Angeles Times,and “comedian” Jon Stewart were all claiming that Cupid had shot an arrow through the hearts of conservatives who are overwhelmed with a passion for Putin.
Chotiner focuses at length on an essay by George Orwell about James Burnham in which he argues that Burnham “held deep regard for — and even envied — authoritarian or totalitarian powers, including Stalin’s Russia.” He then uses this argument to make the claim that contemporary conservatives such as Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, and House Intelligence Committee Mike Rogers have the same level of affection for Putin. “Conservatives don’t just see the west and President Obama as weak; they also seem envious of Putin’s bullying,” writes Chotiner.
A few days later, Chotiner handed off the baton to Horsey who climbed on his high horse to pillory Palin and Limbaugh as well as former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani:
All of this suggests two things. One is that conservatives despise 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.
And when exactly did liberals ever give Ronald Reagan more slack than to the Soviet leader of the day? Nor do I recall Putin winning the CPAC straw poll much less being an extended an invitation.
Then Jon Stewart got in on the act. After having viewed it, I must agree with Kevin D. Williamson’s assessment of Stewart this past weekend at National Review Online:
Mr. Stewart is among the lowest forms of intellectual parasite in the political universe, with no particular insights or interesting ideas of his own, reliant upon the very broadest and least clever sort of humor, using ancient editing techniques to make clumsy or silly political statements sound worse than they are and then pantomiming outrage at the results, the lowbrow version of James Joyce giving the hero of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man the unlikely name of Stephen Dedalus and then having other characters in the novel muse upon the unlikelihood of that name.
This is pretty much what Stewart did. He cut and paste a series of comments from various Fox News contributors and personnel including Palin, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Colonel Ralph Peters about Putin and Obama and feigned outrage at them for praising Putin’s authoritarianism while condemning Obama as a dictator.
Although their conservative targets varied, Chotiner, Horsey, and Stewart all mentioned Sarah Palin. Isn’t it interesting that none of them saw fit to mention that the former Alaska Governor predicted Putin would invade Ukraine in 2008? Well, of course they didn’t. They had to blame conservatives for Obama’s latest snafu and acknowledging Palin’s prescience would have pierced their smokescreen of an argument. Indeed, during her speech at CPAC over the weekend, Palin described Putin as “a bad guy” and “a bad dude.” Those aren’t exactly the words of someone who is enamored with Putin.
Conservative attitudes towards Putin can probably be best summed up by Mitt Romney. In an interview with NBC last January, Romney criticized Putin for helping to keep Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in power and for granting NSA leaker Edward Snowden asylum. Nevertheless, Romney also observed that Putin “outperformed” Obama “time and time again on the world stage.” The 2012 GOP presidential candidate stated, “I think most observers of the international scene suggest that Russia has elevated itself in stature and America has been diminished.”
Curiously, Chotiner, Horsey, and Stewart make no mention of Romney's commentary. Perhaps it is because of its inherent logic. When conservatives say that Putin outperforms Obama, it does not mean we love Putin. When conservatives say that Russia has been elevated and America has been diminished, it does not mean we love Putin.
As for Obama, for conservatives it isn’t about love or hate, but respect. We might not agree with his aims and objectives, but we can respect him if he makes an honest and diligent effort to act in our best national interest at home and abroad. Yet how can Obama command respect when he cannot even spell it?
I suppose liberals will find a way to blame conservatives for this too.