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.”
Putin's an outlier with very little international leverage or power. But because he's publicly opposing Obama he's treated as a right-wing folk hero in America. That's how deep the hatred for Obama runs in today's conservative media circles.
Note that late last moth, just hours before Obama addressed the nation regarding Syria, Matt Drudge bizarrely tweeted that “Putin is the leader of the free world.”
Putin is the leader of the free world...
-- MATT DRUDGE (@DRUDGE) August 31, 2013
More recently, the Putin admiration society has been on full display all across the right-wing media landscape. On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh also seemed to side with Putin:
Now, you know, Vladimir Putin is saying that Obama and Kerry are lying. And I don't know about you, but I find myself to be in a really curious situation. Who do I believe, Vladimir Putin or Barack Obama and John Kerry?
Limbaugh appeared to be impressed by the fact Russia had compiled a 100-page report blaming Syrian rebels for the chemical weapons attack, not Russia's longtime ally, President Bashar al-Assad. Limbaugh told his listeners: “Now, I don't know about you, but what does it feel like to have to agree with a former KGB agent?”
Meanwhile on Fox News, hard-right military analyst Ralph Peters was in full Putin swoon mode yesterday, insisting that “the world is on Vladimir Putin's side about Syria.” According to Peters: “He's a thug, but he's defending the Christians and the other minorities in Syria.”
I don't like Putin, but I respect that guy. He is tough. He delivers what he says he'll deliver. He knows his people. He presents himself as a real He-Man....But he lives up to it! Our president talks tough, but in the clinch he's gutless.
Putin, the right wing's anti-Obama.
The Putin admiration has been growing for weeks now. In August, when the leader helped cracked down on gays in Russia by banning the positive depiction of homosexuality as well as the adoption of Russian children by any foreign couples from countries with marriage equality, the American conservative media cheered the former KGB agent as a righteous champion.
Syndicated columnist Patrick Buchanan toasted Putin's move and praised him for trying to restore Russia's “moral compass” by implementing anti-gay policies. (Limbaugh had previously praised Putin's stance on gay adoption, conceding it was “ironic” for him to be agreeing with a Russian leader.)
At this rate, if Putin ever gets tired of running Russia he can always sign on as a Fox News contributor.