What’s with the Right’s Man Crush on Putin?

What’s with the Right’s Man Crush on Putin? March 15, 2014

A few months back, Simcha Fisher pointed out that the conservative man crush on Putin was absurd and the guy is a tyrant and a murderer.  She was shouted down in her comboxes by people who maintain he is Constantine II, Savior of the Church.  Because gays.  And something something kissing icons. Also, Masons are the true authors of the decree on religious liberty.

What is the *matter* with these people. Jon Stewart does the autopsy on this latest display of the right’s anti-charism of discernment:

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  • BillyT92679

    They’re modern Francoists. Who cares how Generallisimo Putin makes the sausage? It’s akin to the opposition to abortion taking away the world’s sins point (coincidentally the abortion clinics might as well have drive-thru service in Russia).

    Except it’s “hatred” of gays that the Right loves (which is so shallow. He’d court the hell out of gays if the West was traditionalist. It’s just a cynical realpolitik move).

    There are some genius com box folks on the Register who attack the articles showing the strength and resolve of the Greek Catholic bishops. Think about that. You’ve got CATHOLICS. Professed “orthodox” or ” traditional” Catholics attacking Catholic bishops of a Church long persecuted because they are standing up to a guy who very might suppress their CATHOLIC Church again.

    The senses reel.

    • IRVCath

      Not ‘might’ suppress. Putin’s men harass the Catholics in Russia proper already. I will grant where credit is due, though, in that Putin’s government is putting forth laws to take Russian from US/Canadian style abortion free for alls into the slightly more civilized European style laws which theoretically have restrictions on the practice American leftists would balk at.

      I think a lot of the denunciation of bishops is because folks have this stereotype from the 70s and 80s of “the bishops” being stalking horses for social liberals. So they project those anxieties about American and English bishops on the Ukrainian bishops. Also a certain kind of conservative could care less except that Putin makes Obama look bad; therefore he’s one of the good guys.

      • The Deuce

        I don’t like Putin, particularly not because he makes Obama look bad. However, I think it’s hard not to *respect* Putin, and its also hard not to turn around and compare him to our deluded, trite, celebritician President and shake my head in disappointment as I *wish* Obama were someone I could respect.

    • While I’ve met modern Francoists, that’s not exactly a dominant trend in the Right at the moment. For a reasonably intelligent example of what you’re talking about http://dissectleft.blogspot.com/ . The picture of Pinochet in the lower right is a pretty strong sign. I point him out because while the fellow does espouse some very mainstream arguments it’s clear that he is different than most garden variety right wingers in the american tradition.

      I am a greek catholic. I have always found that the sort of thing you are referring to is best responded to by attacking from the other side. They are used to holding the traditionalist high ground. To take that position is actually revisionist and a betrayal of the papal initiatives for reconciliation of several hundred years ago. Such people do not enjoy the role of betrayer of traditional catholicism and are unaccustomed to being thrust into that position but they put themselves there by taking the position that they have.

      • IRVCath

        I think he means the kind of American conservative who stood behind Franco in the 50s and 60s because he was Catholic and anticommunist.

        • BillyT92679

          Exactly. Or, even today the Reactionary Catholics who are apologists of Franco.

  • One of the reasons I’ve been keeping an eye on Putin is his intervention in healing the white/red split in Orthodoxy. He didn’t have to go there but he did with little conventional upside political potential and a good bit of political downside if it had all gone wrong. This sort of thing is not any sort of excuse for his manifest bad habits of suppressing dissent and opportunistic territorial expansionism. It does separate him from the last KGB hand that was running a country from the Kremlin. He’s not Yuri Andropov and that’s not a bad thing.

    Simcha Fisher is wrong because he’s putting out two wrong ways to look at Putin and excluding a sensible middle. “Putin is a bad man, who is also a christian” does not seem to be an outlandish concept to me. A lot of bad men are christians. That’s often how they stop being bad men.

    Putin is definitely a work in progress. The proper response to a work in progress of this nature is to praise the good part of the mix and chide when the bad side comes to the fore. Two minute hates are not appropriate. That comes from a different tradition.

    • Dave G.

      And the best response award goes to…

    • IRVCath

      Right, but two minute lovefests are (apologies to any Moravian readers) are also not appropriate when one is exalting someone’s dubious at best actions. And certainly unjustly attacking bishops is also inappropriate.

  • kirthigdon

    I don’t see that considering Putin a relatively good (or not so bad) ruler by contemporary standards (not a very high bar) constitutes having a “man crush” on him. I’d rate him higher than BHO or any recent US president but as far as leaders of big countries go, I would not rate him as high as Dilma Rousseff. Does that mean I have a crush on her? In the current dust-up over Ukraine, it was the BHO regime which financed and promoted the violent overthrow of the Ukraine government. Putin is simply trying to salvage what he can of Russia’s interests in the Crimea.

    Kirt Higdon

  • Elmwood

    all i know is that even if russia rolls into eastern ukraine, or the whole ukraine, we better not get into a war over it. but my guess is that the war profiteers will prevail in that scenario–fox news corp et al.

  • DeirdreMundy

    Heck, I always knew he was a KGB Commie Jerk. Also, dude, even if he kisses icons, they’re SCHISMATIC icons, people! Get with the program!

  • Eve Fisher

    You can generally tell what people really worship by who or what they love, admire, rave about, no matter what they say they love or worship. A man crush on Putin? Sounds like what they really love is naked power.

    • Dave G.

      Or maybe, as some have said, they agree where they agree, and disagree where they think he is wrong. Sort of like Mark’s referencing Jon Stewart so often. I doubt that means Mark has a ‘man crush’ on Stewart and supports everything that Stewart supports and stands for. Mark has made that clear. Mark agrees with Stewart, and in that area, Mark disagrees with Stewart. My guess is, many are like that, even if some aren’t.

      • Mark doesn’t get all excited when Jon Stewart wrestles bears and rides a horse with no shirt on.

        • Dave G.

          But Mark frequently throws out his admiration and like of Stewart. Which is OK. I’m not much of a fan for saying ‘when he does it, it’s clearly awesome because he does it with just the right jot but not the wrong tittles. Those types, on the other hand…” In other words, some might worship at the alter of Putin. That happens across the board. But don’t assume just because some may find something to agree with that they have man crushes. Assume if Mark can do it, or you can, or I can, then even Conservatives can agree and disagree at the same time.

      • The Deuce

        I think “Mark has a mancrush on Stewart” is a lot closer to the truth than “The right has a mancrush on Putin.”

    • D.T. McCameron

      Half-naked power. 😉

      • Eve Fisher

        And pretty unappetizing to boot!

  • Cypressclimber

    There you go again.

    “The right” is not in love with Putin.

    Some on the right, are.

    Others are praising Putin as a way to bash Obama. It may be a low rhetorical tactic, but it’s not a “man crush.”

    There are a lot of us conservatives, we don’t all get our marching orders emailed to us each morning.

    • Dave G.

      You jest.

      • Cypressclimber


        Not following you, sorry.

        • Dave G.

          I was playing around. In other words, you have to be kidding! You mean “The Right” doesn’t have a man crush on Putin?!

          • Cypressclimber

            I don’t. I have a lot of knuckle-dragging friends; and I’m pretty sure if I did a survey, I wouldn’t find many of them gazing doe-eyed at shirtless images of Putin.

            I used to work in politics — on the right. I bet if I checked in with any number of right leaning groups, working on taxes, gun ownership, abortion, and so forth, not many of them would have a “man crush.”

            So, yeah, some people say deliberately provocative things, online or on TV, and our genial host turns it into the whole movement’s project.

  • Aurelia

    Am I the only one who feels like the Catholic/Christian “child” of bitterly divorced parents who are trying to pitt their child against each other in order to “one up” the other parent and make them look bad? This is exactly how I feel when I hear about Putin’s “reverence” for all things Christan/Catholic. I feel like it’s all for show, the
    “See how I much I like Christians, unlike your bad President Obama. Here’s a candy bar, let’s go to Six flags, only don’t tell your ‘mother’ because she would never let you do this. Don’t you love me more than ‘her’?”

    That’s what always comes to my mind.

  • kirthigdon

    As long as I’ve dared to put in a good word for Putin, I might as well throw caution to the winds and put in a good word for Franco as well. He saved Spain from Communist takeover and saved the Catholics from even greater massacres than they had already endured at the hands of the Spanish left. He kept Spain out of WWII (apart from using the Blue Division as a way to keep malcontents occupied far away from Spain in the Soviet Union), refused to permit Hitler to march through Spain to get at Gibraltar, and saved as many as 50,000 Jewish lives by issuing Spanish passports to them, no questions asked. (Like many Spaniards, he was said to be partly of Jewish ancestry.)

    On the other hand, he was ruthless in war with his enemies, so had he been an American, he probably would have been idolized like Lincoln and FDR. His biggest mistake was in granting the US bases, which was the beginning of Spanish integration into the corrupt US/EU world empire. However, he may not have felt that he had much choice. To refuse US bases would at best have resulted in continuing Spanish economic isolation and at worst may have led to a US sponsored coup or invasion.

    Now if I need to further establish my reactionary credentials, let me add that I look forward to the canonization of Karl von Hapsburg.

    Kirt Higdon

    • I look forward to the canonization of Karl von Hapsburg

      Who doesn’t? The guy rocked.

      • IRVCath

        Right. And Kaiser Karl was hardly an autocrat, or certainly no more than any wartime leader would be (Even though his Prime Minister in the Austrian half shut down parliament, Sturgkh still provided an institutional counterbalance; in Hungary, Parliament effectively ran the country, not Karoly as King). Totally different to Franco.

  • Mark R

    Sometimes our U.S. leaders pick other countries’ leaders. We average citizens,however, cannot pick pick who runs other countries or do anything about people in this country who admire them. There are lots of things we do not like that we have to just put up with.

  • HA

    What’s with the Right’s Man Crush on Putin?

    A well-financed PR campaign certainly helps (hattip: isteve). Moscow has looked for fellow travelers in the US to do their propaganda for them before – they’re just a different set of stooges this time around. (For what it’s worth, I doubt Washington is much different in its PR campaigns throughout Russia.) The goal is the same: to make the West more compliant with regard to power-hungry Moscow expansionists, and in particular, to cultivate a “nothing to see here, folks” attitude as Putin resections Ukraine.

    Paradoxically, the pink mafia (or lavender, if you prefer) could once be relied on to advance Moscow-approved ideology within the press and the universities. Nowadays, it is the West is using “homophobia” as a reason to argue *against* Moscow, going so far as to use radical gay advocates to advance their views.

  • Hematite

    Check out R.R. Reno’s article, “Global Culture Wars” in the April First Things for a very interesting take on what Putin may be up to and perhaps one answer to Mark’s quandary. Putin may be setting himself up to lead an international backlash provoked by the West’s aggressive cultural agenda.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    When the Right said, “Anyone but Obama!” They meant it. The GOP can’t beat Obama, so the Right has decided to back Putin. Putin’s greatest virtue to the American Right is that he shows absolutely no fear of Obama or Kerry. Putin is a Cold Warrior Tyrant, and Obama and Kerry are just puppets of their party who won’t have a job in 3 years.

  • ImTim

    I had an interesting conversation with a gentleman who works for the Secretariat of State at the Vatican. While certainly not endorsing Putin’s expansionism, he made it clear that “Western morality” does not equate with “Christian morality.”

    He said that Russia (although not necessarily Putin) might have something to teach the West about certain aspects of Christian morality, and that we should approach it with discernment rather than quick reaction. Nevertheless, when I heard (several months ago) Putin being upheld as a paragon of virtue at a mass I was attending, I may have said, “Bullshit” louder than I intended.

  • D.T. McCameron

    I think some of it comes down to what Lewis said, “The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

    Compared to peace-prize winning, drone-deploying, warrantlessly executing and spying administration of moral(y bankrupt) busybodies at home, the recognized corruption and oppression of that other place must seem refreshingly…straightforward.

    It’s a bit like having to choose between Robespierre and Vlad the Impaler.