Thursday, March 06, 2014

American authoritarians loves them some Putin-style strong men

In a great piece over at The New Republic, Issac Chotiner surveys how American conservatives increasingly fail to disguise their lust for strong authority figures up to and past Vladimir Putin. Chotiner records how "1984" author George Orwell once noticed this effect way back in the post-WWII era, observing the behavior of James Burnham, a leading conservative voice and ostensible anti-communist who couldn't seem to stop gushing out loud over the power and strength of strongmen like, well, Stalin and Adolph Hitler. Orwell detected a strong flavor of authoritarianism and impatience in too many political philosophers like Burnham who sneered at the inherently "weak" democratic form of government, with all its tiresome checks and balances.

Read Chotiner's piece over here  to see how deftly he updates Orwell with regard to today's conservatives, more than a few of whom are all agog over Putin's "bold" action in the Ukraine (hmmm, now what other world leader of recent vintage did they regard as "bold"? I can think of one, a man whose initials are GWB).

Chotiner's piece reminded me of other evidence of this effect, which in turn reminded me of an old routine by the late George Carlin. Start with the funny: The comedian noticed how in American culture, ideas are often politically malleable. "Lenin had a beard!" Carlin proclaimed. "But Gabby Hayes had...whiskers!"

The top shark (or barracuda) jumper of the day in this regard is Sarah Palin, who in a diatribe against our supposedly failed, failed, incompetent, helpless president told Sean Hannity at Fox that Obama is to blame for Putin's action because:

.. especially under the commander-in-chief that we have today because Obama's -- the perception of him and his potency across the world is one of such weakness. And you know, look, 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.
... said the would-be bloviator-in-chief herself. So there you have it in a nutshell.

Ronald Reagan wore cowboy jeans while riding on his ranch and blasting Grenadans without mercy!

George W. Bush wore wrangler jeans while clearing brush and leveling Baghdad!

But Barack Obama? Oooooh, he wears mom jeans! Presumably, he takes his daughters to soccer practice, too.

And that, Palin informs us, is precisely why US foreign policy is in the toilet. Says, at least, the woman whom if you believe her could see it all coming from her front porch in Alaska.

My only question here: Did Reagan wear "mom jeans" when he bailed out of Lebanon after more than 200 US Marines there were blown up in their barracks while asleep? And did Bush wear "mom jeans" when in 2008 he played tiddly winks while Russia ran military incursions into another of its former Baltic satrapies, Georgia? Inquiring denim lovers demand to know!

Originally posted to Ron Legro on Wed Mar 05, 2014