A Blog on Politics, Principles, and Uncovering the Narrative

Category: Conservatism

The Corrupt Defense of Donald Trump

The thing that is most telling about the many reactions by Trump and other republicans: none of them are stating that Trump didn’t do what he is being charged with.

However, they are saying lots of other stuff.

Here is a blow-by-blow dismantling of the defenses used by Trump and other republicans against his indictment:

The first and foremost of the objections:

This is the weaponization of federal law enforcement and government.

If you are “weaponizing government,” it means that you are using government powers to attack your political enemies for things they did not do, or for things they would normally not be punished for.

An excellent example of the weaponization of federal law enforcement and government would be what happened to Hillary Clinton regarding both Benghazi and the email issue. There were six different republican House committee investigations (and four others in government as well) on Benghazi, one after another after another.

What’s more, Kevin McCarthy himself admitted that their goal was weaponization—that the purpose of the investigations were to erode public trust in Hillary Clinton so as to make her unelectable:

Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought.

That’s weaponization.

The same can be said of Hillary Clinton’s emails; several officials in the Bush 43 and Trump administrations did the exact same things with email accounts as Clinton did, but it was Clinton who was endlessly investigated, not just by republicans in Congress, but the FBI, culminating in republican FBI head James Comey violating the Hatch Act and making a completely unnecessary but completely damning-sounding announcement 11 days before the election in a manner that clearly changed the election’s outcome.

That’s weaponization.

Hillary committed no crimes and was cleared of all accusations of criminal activity. And it was not just the FBI which said that, it was the republican investigations as well. But they never cared about that, as their true goal was to make Hillary unelectable, and they succeeded.

On the other hand, what has happened with Trump is completely different. The investigations did not spring from spurious political claims without evidence; all come from direct evidence of Trump committing a number of crimes. The Biden Department of Justice showed great reluctance to move forth with any investigations, and it was not until nearly two years after Trump left office that a special prosecutor was named, and it took him eight months to bring charges.

That’s not weaponization. It’s an overcautious slow-walk in reaction to blatant illegal actions resulting in an indictment based on manifestly blatant crimes with an unmistakably powerful foundation of facts and evidence proving the indictment just.


Donald Trump is being prosecuted for the same crimes committed by Joe Biden

No, he’s not. Had Trump done what Biden did—immediately hand over all documents upon realizing he had them—then  Trump would not have been prosecuted. In fact, Trump knew he had the documents all along, oversaw which documents he would take, and knew it was wrong to take them, but even then, had Trump responded to the request by the National Archives to return the records, he would still not have been in trouble. Even as late as the subpoena by the FBI, if Trump had complied, he still would not have been prosecuted.

Trump is not being charged for taking the documents. All of the charges are based upon the initial crime of “failing to deliver” once requested by the archives and the FBI subpoena. Biden never did that, and Trump is not being charged for simply taking the documents with him.

He is being prosecuted because he participated in a conspiracy to obstruct justice by hiding the documents and lying about them to law enforcement, as well as having disseminated some of the documents.

There is zero evidence that either Biden nor Pence willfully took documents. Neither of them withheld any documents. Both immediately reported the documents upon finding them and returned them. Neither of them schemed to hide them, nor did they defy any subpoenas, nor did they lie about them.

Had either of them done any of that, they would be in the same trouble Trump is in.

Furthermore, the emphasis is on the knowing mishandling of secret documents; there is no evidence whatsoever of Pence, Biden, or Clinton doing this; with Trump, there is copious evidence.


The Biden administration indicted Trump, and so that’s a biased, political attack

First, Biden did not order the indictment. Merrick Garland did not order the indictment. Even Jack Smith, an independent special counsel, did not order them. A Florida grand jury ordered the indictment. Biden and Garland both studiously maintained a great distance from the matter.

Second, Trump clearly committed crimes. Are republicans saying that if a republican commits crime, then a Democrat can never, ever prosecute them for that? Because I don’t think that anyone doubts that republicans would indict a Democrat in a New York minute. They tried like hell to do that to Bill Clinton, then to Hillary Clinton, and to Obama (remember Durham?), and even now they’re screaming for Biden to be investigated. So if Democrats are OK as targets for republicans, why is the reverse somehow suddenly unthinkable?

Not to mention, republicans have made it crystal clear that they will never prosecute one of their own. they have stated this out loud for years, just as they have demonstrated with their votes for just as long.

So if a Democratic administration is not allowed to investigate a republican and republicans refuse to investigate their own, we are back to republicans being a special elite class above the law and beyond its reach.

No, this is not a political attack, and as has been pointed out on many occasions, if anyone else had done what Trump has done, they would be in jail already.


This is election tampering

No, election tampering is the head of the FBI recklessly announcing that new Hillary emails had been found, giving a distinct assumption of guilt, just 11 days before an election, sending Hillary, then the front running, into a steep and sudden dive—the classic definition of “October Surprise.”

That’s election tampering.

This indictment comes more than a year before the next election, and the timing was due to Trump’s own actions.


Joe Biden had 1,850 boxes of classified documents

No, that’s an outright fiction. The number may be the number of total documents given to the University of Delaware, which is perfectly legal for a Senator to do; Biden was a Senator when he gave the documents.

Why isn’t Biden under investigation?

He is. Special counsel Robert Hur (a Trump appointee) is handling the case. Keep in mind that Biden had maybe a few dozen classified documents at most, compared to Trump’s 300+ classified documents. Trump’s included vital information, including military plans and nuclear secrets. 

Aside from that, there is no requirement that Biden be prosecuted at the same time and in the same way as Trump.

Josh Hawley:

This is not about Donald Trump ultimately; this is about the United States of America. This is about whether the Constitution is still real in this country. This is about whether any American, any American can expect the due process of law.

Umm… what?

I guess that when you got nothing, then content-free babble might be an attractive alternative.

Mitch McConnell:



Trump had the power to declassify those documents. He declassified them.

No he didn’t. Declassification has a process, and there is no record at all of Trump going through that process. Nor is it an actual thing for a president to be able to declassify records just by taking them. Nor would it still be OK for Trump to have the kinds of records he had at Mar-A-Lago.

Nikki Haley:

The American people are exhausted by the prosecutorial overreach, double standards, and vendetta politics

Then republicans should stop doing it.

Trump again:

This is a witch hunt

No, a “witch hunt” is when any number of innocent people are falsely accused so as to intimidate them to accuse others, and then the process is repeated. This is what Joe McCarthy did in the 1950s.

It is not a “witch hunt” if a special prosecutor without political affiliations investigates mountains of evidence of a crime.

Trump is being prosecuted under the wrong law; instead of the Espionage Act, he should be prosecuted under the Presidential Records Act

That’s like prosecuting a bank robber for jaywalking; the Presidential Records Act is a red herring that republicans are using, pretending that everything Trump did falls under a civil crime, and not the far more powerful—and relevant—Espionage Act.

The charges are all lies.

Apparently, evidence is not a real thing. The facts speak for themselves, and often Trump is the one on record confessing out loud.

The standard reporting from right-wing outlets utilizes two techniques: outrage at anything and everything, and the firehose of lies. Mark Levin, in one small example, screamed in outrage that the indictment was made in Florida—as if that were an injustice instead of an advantage for Trump. And the talking heads’ litany of fury and disgust were packed full of false assumptions, gross exaggerations, and outright lies that not only were disgorged in vomitous volume, but each lie was itself based upon a mountain of other lies. Such rage-filled onslaughts are not a matter of fact or reason, they have the sole purpose of expressing an emotional wrath intended to create only the impression that there is anything to be outraged about.

In the end, it comes down to just a few things:

Did Trump commit crimes? The answer is clearly “Yes.” Trump has been committing crimes for years. The evidence is copious and indisputable.

Should Trump be prosecuted? Unless we want to establish a new legal standard wherein people who are in power are above the law and can commit crimes with impunity, then yes, Trump must be prosecuted.

Should we prosecute every last crime by politicians? No. If a crime is minor or irrelevant to national security or without harm to individuals, or can be excused as an accident or by lack of awareness, then such actions by presidents can and perhaps should be overlooked, for the reasons presented in the Nixon administration memo: if constantly pelted by prosecutions over minor things, a president would never be able to do their job.

The problem comes when these crimes are relevant, are a threat to national security, and are harmful to people. These cannot and must not be overlooked. And Trump has without question committed such crimes.

What Is Most Wrong with Tucker’s Text Message

Trump supporter
Trump supporter and white supremacist assaulting a liberal protester.

We all know it by now, and we have all been horrified by it. Horrified by his evident racism, and by the fact that Carlson, as a representative of modern conservatism, is as bloodthirsty as this. However, it is even more chilling if you think about a single word in his message that makes it even worse than you have likely imagined so far. Can you spot the word?

A couple of weeks ago, I was watching video of people fighting on the street in Washington. A group of Trump guys surrounded an Antifa kid and started pounding the living shit out of him. It was three against one, at least. Jumping a guy like that is dishonorable obviously. It’s not how white men fight. Yet suddenly I found myself rooting for the mob against the man, hoping they’d hit him harder, kill him. I really wanted them to hurt the kid. I could taste it. Then somewhere deep in my brain, an alarm went off: this isn’t good for me. I’m becoming something I don’t want to be. The Antifa creep is a human being. Much as I despise what he says and does, much as I’m sure I’d hate him personally if I knew him, I shouldn’t gloat over his suffering. I should be bothered by it. I should remember that somewhere somebody probably loves this kid, and would be crushed if he was killed. If I don’t care about those things, if I reduce people to their politics, how am I better than he is?

This things that disturbs me most is one word that I believe has been mostly overlooked:


That’s the key word, after all. That’s what made the kid in the video worthy of being beaten and even killed, as far as Carlson was concerned.

But what does it actually mean? In order to correctly judge what Carlson meant, it is necessary to step back and understand the term as Carlson himself defines it.

“Antifa” simply means “Anti-Fascist.” But Antifa is not an organization. There are no members’ lists, no meetings, no headquarters, no budget, no donors.

It can mean anyone who claims to be “Antifa,” anyone who makes flags or dresses in black and invokes the name. At the most concrete, it might refer to people who take typically non-violent action in protest of fascism. While there was a single homicide committed by a self-identified anti-fascist in 2020, that’s the only such case in 25 years (as opposed to a few dozen murders by right-wingers nearly every single year).

But that’s not what Tucker Carlson was referring to, because conservatives like Carlson reject that definition of “Antifa,” as it is too limited. That’s of no use when you are trying to instill fear in millions.

More generally, “Antifa,” as I noted earlier, simply means anyone who opposes fascism. However, that is also not what Carlson refers to, as this would include a large number of moderates and conservatives, not to mention pretty much every WWII veteran.

No, to Tucker Carlson, “Antifa” refers to nothing less than any particular liberal. Or, perhaps more accurately, any particular liberal who makes protest in public.

Remember, to conservatives, no such thing as a “peaceful liberal protester” exists. All liberal protesters, especially BLM, are terrorists thugs. Every single liberal protest is intended as an orgy of violence in which entire cities are burned to the ground.

It’s a handy way to vilify the opposition—if you’re a liberal and you protest, then you’re a terrorist.

Now, come back to Carlson’s writing:

A group of Trump guys surrounded an Antifa kid and started pounding the living shit out of him.

So, who were the “Trump guys” beating up?

Now that we have worked out what “Antifa” means to Carlson, the answer is a young liberal protester. That was his crime, that was his sin. He was a liberal, and he took to the streets in protest. That now warrants a beating, and possibly death.

Not that this is shocking. Right-wingers have been advocating violence against liberal protesters for some time. Remember when Trump told his angry crowd of supporters at a rally to “knock the crap out of” liberal protesters? He even promised to pay the legal fees of anyone who did his bidding.

After a liberal protester, Heather Heyer, was run over and killed by a white supremacist terrorist, republicans in Oklahoma and Iowa passed laws to legally protect people who run over protesters, with many other red states considering similar bills. This is unmistakably a direct threat to liberal protesters, an open encouragement to injure and kill liberals on the street. 

So to Tucker Carlson and like-minded republicans, the simple act of liberals protestering merits a death sentence.

Yet suddenly I found myself rooting for the mob against the man, hoping they’d hit him harder, kill him. I really wanted them to hurt the kid. I could taste it.

Why? Because the “kid” was a liberal and was exercising his freedom of speech. That was the totality of his crime. That drives conservatives to such heights of offense and outrage that they can literally taste their thirst for violence, to the extent of murder.

And that’s what really chills me about all of this. 

It is that Carlson and potentially tens of millions of others right-wingers are now at the point where they feel that liberals should be killed in the street for simply speaking their minds.

The Importance of Hearing Dog Whistles

Scott Adams
Scott Adams on his YouTube channel getting understatedly annoyed at imaginary black people.

You may have heard about Scott Adams getting dropped from hundreds of outlets today because of a racist rant on his YouTube channel, “Real Coffee with Scott Adams” in which he called black Americans a “hate group” and that white people should just “just get the fuck away” from them. An extended transcript is below, if you want full context.

What is this all about? Well, Adams was furious at a Rasmussen Reports poll which said that 53% of black people agreed with the statement, “It’s OK to be white,” from which he then inferred that 47% of black people didn’t, and therefore they are racists, a hate group, and he is so over them.

The source of his anger is very telling. First of all, Rasmussen Reports is a strongly conservative polling outfit, typically setting the stage for republican politicians and talking heads with these rather obviously slanted polls designed to create controversy. This particular poll had two questions:

1* Do you agree or disagree with this statement: “It’s OK to be white.”

2* Do you agree or disagree with this statement: “Black people can be racist, too.” You may or may not be able to see the screeching racist dog whistles in these two questions, but the whistle is there, loud and clear.

The first question asks if “It’s OK to be white.” You might think that this is a bit strange, as on its face, it sounds like any other response except “Yes” would be discriminatory.

Here’s the problem: it’s a racist dog whistle that many people are not aware of. It has been around for years in the alt-right community as a statement representing white-supremacist views, constructed specifically to impervious from attack because of how innocuously correct it seems—but nonetheless is used in a powerfully racist way. Like the slogan, “All Lives Matter,” it passive-aggressively attacks protests against racism by slyly suggesting that people of color who are being discriminated against are the real racists here.

So, if you know the history of the statement, then you know it is a racist slur, and you would react strongly against it.

However, in the poll, most respondents probably didn’t even know what it means. Without the historical context, you have to wonder, “Does this mean that being white is not OK? In what way? Is it OK for me to be white? For white people? For anyone, metaphorically? Culturally? What?”

When Adams concluded that 47% of black Americans are utter racists, he kind of glossed over—or did not pay attention to—the fact that only 26% said they disagree with it; he included in that group the 21% who said they were not sure, a reasonable response considering the lack of context. And, either not knowing or ignoring the context, he did not reflect on the fact that likely most, if not almost all of the 26% who said “no” did so because they did know the context, and were responding to a white supremacist slogan.

The heavily slanted nature of the poll becomes further clear with the only other question, about the statement that “Black people can be racist, too.”

This harkens back to a controversial quote, famously made by Spike Lee, that “black people can’t be racist.”

This statement was immediately attacked by, well, virtually every single conservative in the country, as an outrageous statement which, they accused, was racist in and of itself. “What, only white people can hate people of other races?” was the reaction. It seemed completely indefensible, utterly absurd, and was used to castigate anyone accusing white people of racism. It was used heavily in the campaign to cast white people as the real victims of an institution of hatred against abuse of every last single white person.

The thing is, that’s not what Spike Lee said. Here’s his actual full quote:

Black people can’t be racist. Racism is an institution. Black people don’t have the power to keep hundreds of people from getting jobs or the vote. Black people didn’t bring nobody over in boats. They had to add shit to the Constitution so we could get the vote. Affirmative action is about finished in this country now. It’s through. And black people had nothing to do with that, those kinds of decisions. So how can black people be racist when that’s the standard? Now, black people can be prejudiced. Shit, everybody’s prejudiced about something.

Read the last two sentences of that quote again, in case you missed it. “Now, black people can be prejudiced. Shit, everybody’s prejudiced about something.” In short, he is making painfully clear that black people can hate all white people, that they can be prejudiced.

His real message is that, as opposed to prejudice, which is personal, racism is institutional, meaning that it carries the force of the society with it. I live in Japan, so I can be prejudiced against Japanese people, but racism is institutional, so being racist here is the domain of the 98% Japanese population. It is simply a matter of definitions.

In that context, Lee’s statement is scathingly true, and uncomfortably accurate. It is only the intentional misreading of that statement which casts it as a racist slur in itself.

Black Lives Matter means that only black lives matter It’s OK to Be White means that black people hate all white people, not racism Black People Can’t Be Racist means that black people are super-racist

See how the meanings are turned around? Notice how, in context, the meanings cast an absolutely different light? This is profoundly intentional.

So again, when the poll asked respondents to agree or disagree with the statement, “Black people can be racist, too,” they were blowing another deafening dog whistle.

Knowing the context of these two statements, the purpose and intent behind the poll become rather clear. They were intended, with clear dishonest motives, to make black people look bad.

The question that remains is, did Scott Adams understand this, taking the opportunity to make his racist intent look like wounded sympathy? Or was he so unaware of the context that he let himself be fooled by the clear intent of the poll?

I am honestly not sure; it could have been either or even both. One thing that’s clear is Adams’ racist beliefs. Note these quotes from his rant, after stating that he intentionally moved to a predominantly white neighborhood because black neighborhoods are shit:

Everybody who focuses their priority on education does well. If anybody in the black community focuses on education, they’ll do well as well, because the the system allows that if they don’t, I can’t make that my problem anymore. It just can’t be my problem. It can’t be my problem if the solution is so clear, so available, and people don’t want to take it. It’s just not my problem anymore, so I resign.

In short, black people have only themselves to blame for their lot in life because they don’t focus on education. As if they don’t want to, or that a hundred significant truths about the black experience do not weigh more heavily on that topic than does simple choice. As if society does not make utterly clear to black kids that only through sports or entertainment or crime that they cannot be successful, in a world where people whose very names just sound black don’t get called back for job applications, where these kids are virtually hunted by cops and given a rap sheet that hobbles them for life before they can even have a chance to get that education, that racism does not hobble the families’ incomes and opportunities, that… well, you get the idea. The list would be a whole essay in and of itself.

No, no, none of that matters. It’s all just a choice they make. After all, we elected a black man president, and that means that any black person can make it in our society, and that race isn’t an issue. Right?

Sure looks pretty clear to be that Adams believes in this alt-right bullshit version of reality.

Here is the relevant excerpt from Adams’ rant:


Well, Rasmussen poll had a provocative little poll today. They said do you agree or disagree with the statement uh it’s okay to be white. That was an actual question Rasmussen asked you know white and black voters and and probably others uh do you disagree or agree with a statement, ‘It’s okay to be white,’ 26 percent of blacks said, no, it’s not okay to be white. 21 weren’t sure. Together that is 47 of black respondents were not willing to say it’s okay to be white.

That that actually that’s like a real poll, this just happened. Did you have any idea, would you have imagined that that could have happened. So I realized, as you know I’ve been identifying as black for a while, years now, because I like you know I like to be on the winning team, and I like to help and I always thought, well, if you help the black community, that’s sort of the biggest lever you know you could you can find the the biggest benefit. So I thought, well that’s the hardest thing and the biggest benefit, so I’d like to focus a lot of my life resources in helping black Americans so much, so that I started identifying as black to just be on the team I was helping.

But it turns out that nearly half of that team doesn’t think I’m okay to be white, which is of course why I identified as black because so I could be on the winning team for a while.

But I have to say, this is the first political poll that’s changed my activities. I don’t know that that’s ever happened before. Normally you see a poll, you just look at it, you go, ‘Ahh, whatever. Oh, this is interesting, what other people think.’

But, as of today, I am going to re-identify as white, cause I don’t want to be a member of a hate group. I’ve accidentally joined a hate group.

So if nearly half of all Blacks are not OK with white people – according to this poll, not according to me, according to this poll – that’s a hate group. That’s a hate group. And I don’t want to have anything to do with them.

And I would say, based on the current way things are going, the best advice I would give to White people is to get the hell away from Black people, just get the fuck away. Wherever you have to go, just get away. Cause there’s no fixing this. This can’t be fixed. Alright, this can’t be fixed. You just have to escape.

So that’s what I did, I went to a neighborhood where [I] have a very low black population, because unfortunately, there is a high correlation between the density—this is according to Don Lemon, by the way—so here I’m just quoting Don Lemon, when he notes, that he—when he lived in a mostly black neighborhood, there were a bunch of problems that he didn’t see in white neighborhoods. So even Don Lemon sees a big difference in your own quality of living based on where he live[d], and who was there.

So I don’t think it makes any sense as a white citizen of America to try to help Black citizens anymore. It doesn’t make sense. There’s no longer a rational impulse. And so I’m going to back off on being helpful to Black America because it doesn’t seem like it pays off.

Like I’ve been doing it all my life, and the only outcome is I get called a racist. That’s the only outcome. It makes no sense to help Black Americans if you’re white. It’s over. Don’t even think it’s worth trying. Totally not trying. Now, we should be friendly; like I’m not saying, start a war, do anything bad, nothing like that. I’m just saying get away, just get away.

And here’s my take on all of it: Everybody who focuses their priority on education does well. If anybody in the black community focuses on education, they’ll do well as well, because the the system allows that if they don’t, I can’t make that my problem anymore. It just can’t be my problem. It can’t be my problem if the solution is so clear, so available, and people don’t want to take it. It’s just not my problem anymore, so I resign.

I resigned from the hate group called Black Americans according to the Rasmussen poll, 46 percent of them don’t think white people are okay. Just being white… and there we go.

You didn’t expect that today, did you?

But the most helpful thing I can do is to say I’m not going to help. Do you understand that? Continuing to help in in that sort of you know classic ‘Oh, let me help you give you a you know a lift up, give you a hand, you know, Mentor you, hire you, prefer you…’ I’m going to stop all of that. I’m done with all of that. Yeah, no, it didn’t work. The only thing that will work is to say, you got to fix your own problem. You know how you know how to do, it everybody else figured it out.

I’m not going to speculate you know why you’re not doing it. I’m not going to speculate why there’s a difference. I’m just going to say it’s available to everybody, just pick it up. It’s free money. Focus on education and you could have a good life too.

But those who don’t want to focus on education you just need to get away from them just get as much distance as you can. That’s my recommendation.

And I’m also really sick of seeing video after video of black Americans beating up non-black citizens. I realize it’s anecdotal, and you know it doesn’t give me a a full picture of what’s happening but every damn day I look on social media and there’s some black person beating the out of some white person. I’m kind of over it. I’m over it right so I quit

And it feels good not to be in a racist hate group anymore so I’m now independent, not a member of any group I do not align with any group not the white supremacists, and not the black racists. All right.

Right-Wing Love for Putin and Russia Pre-Dated Trump


Why do republicans love Putin?

Even now, as the world and the rest of America gets behind Zelenskyy and Ukraine, republicans steadfastly admire and support Putin, though often more quietly so after Putin’s recent atrocities.

But how did they come to love Putin and Russian in the first place? The Republican Party’s identity for decades was practically defined by their searing hatred for Russia. Even in 2012, Mitt Romney identified Russia as being America’s “number one geopolitical foe.”

Most people assume that Donald Trump brought Putin Love to the right wing, but that’s not accurate. Trump’s association with Putin developed at about the same time as the republican admiration of Putin, but Trump was not openly pro-Russian until after Putin was already a right-wing hero. 

So, how did it happen? Why did republicans go Coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs over this aggressive dictator?

The answer is Obama. He was an effective, popular, charismatic president who was being a better Republican president than any of their own candidates could hope to be. This drove right-wingers crazy. They needed a foil for Obama, someone arguably better and more powerful than him, but no one in their own ranks measured up.

And then Syria happened. In August of 2012, Obama was asked what would provoke a U.S. military action in Syria, and Obama replied that Syria’s use of chemical weapons would constitute a “red line” that would bring America into the fray. However, a year later, Assad crossed that red line, using sarin gas to kill more than a thousand of his own people. Suddenly, Obama was boxed in: he had promised action, but almost any action he took would end badly, not to mention that the American people did not want to add a third land war in Asia to our plate.

Obama responded by passing the buck on to Congress, asking for their approval to use military force. Conservatives saw this as a sign of weakness and began to pile on.

It was then that Vladimir Putin came to the rescue, suggesting a plan to get Syria to surrender its chemical weapons stockpiles so as to avoid military action against them. Obama grabbed the opportunity as a best possible solution, and Damascus agreed to the terms.

That was when republicans suddenly took a liking to Putin: he had stolen Obama’s thunder, outplayed him in Syria, and took the limelight in center stage. The idea that Putin had shown up Obama and pulled the rug out from under him in the region became the story of the month. Matt Drudge, of the Drudge Report, hailed Putin’s involvement in Syria, tweeting that “Putin is leader of the free world.” He began to constantly run headlines praising Putin and trashing Obama, branding Putin as the strong, charismatic world leader, and Obama as a spineless coward who couldn’t begin to match his Russian counterpart. This was a drumbeat starting in 2013 onward, often echoed elsewhere in the conservative sphere. And then, in early 2014, just six months after the Syria deal, Putin just rolled into Crimea and annexed it, and Obama could not do much of anything about it. Putin again came out on top.

Republicans loved this. They discovered a newfound hero in Putin. He was rugged, masculine, in control. He was a right-wing, nationalistic, militaristic shirtless man riding a horse in the countryside. His policies were fiscally conservative, anti-tax, pro-Christian, and a near-perfect fit for the religious right. Most of all, Putin was aggressively, even virulently hostile to gay people. And he invaded and occupied nearby countries.

And Obama was more or less powerless to stop him.

That’s what truly made Putin a right-wing hero, besting Obama in the geopolitical arena, not just once, but twice. Showing power to Obama’s powerlessness. Comments like this started appearing in right-wing areas in 2014:

“Putin is a former KGB colonel. 0bama is a former community organizer. Of course Putin is going to have a far better grasp of international affairs. That is obvious to anyone outside of the liberal echo chamber.”

“Putin right? Why is anyone on earth surprised? President Putin is highly intelligent and by far the best leader in the world. The best leader I have seen in my life time. A man’s man who makes his own decisions and loves his country and its citizens.”

“He is a world leader. He sees the world, not the next party, photo op, selfie…. Putin=Leader Obama=Loser in every category for a leader as well as human being.”

“arguably, Putin would be a better Commander in Chief than our dear leader.”

“Putin at least isn’t a blind Marxism/Leninism fool, unlike Obama and his fellow New Bolshevik Criminals. Their pathetic attempts to focus solely on domestic control, while ignoring rest of world will end up destroying this country.”

All of this was more than a year before Trump showed any sign of being relevant at all. Trump did not bring Putin to the party, republicans were already very much on board. Right-wing talking heads started speaking reverently of Putin, gleeful to have someone who showed up their hated foremost enemy, their own president. More and more, they found elements of Russian culture and Putin’s political positions of which they approved, like Putin’s laws against “homosexual propaganda,” i.e. any favorable mention of LGBTQ people or issues.

While Trump spoke favorably of Putin once or twice after the Syria deal, even slightly before his fateful trip to Russia for the Miss Universe contest (the one where the “pee tape” was allegedly recorded), no possible argument could be made that Trump was in any way responsible for making Putin popular in right-wing circles. In fact, this early admiration for Putin likely helped republicans accept Trump better; he was already a Putin-lover, and fit right in with the crowd.

The problem for republicans is that Putin is, both to their discomfort and delight, a murderous power-crazed dictator willing to commit atrocities. The atrocities part may tamper down their enthusiasm temporarily, but they love the aggressive strongman part, and even as Russia becomes a pariah in most of the world, conservatives still prefer him to anything liberal. Thus we saw signs, t-shirts, and other conservative gear since maybe 2018 reading, “I’d rather be a Russian than a Democrat.”

But Trump didn’t bring that. It was there before he stopped being a joke.


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