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Roger’s Rules

Putin’s Horrifying Mirror

September 14th, 2013 - 5:11 am

What was it about Vladimir Putin’s extraordinary op-ed in The New York Times last week that so infuriated the Washington establishment? Oh, how they hated it!  The whole lot of them: the White House stammered that it was “irrelevant.” Intermittent conservative John Boehner said he was “insulted” by it. Speaking from the other side of the aisle, Robert Menendez told CNN that it made him “almost want to vomit.” And the great Nowhere Man, Col. Gaddafi’s good buddy, the Madcap Maverick himself, John McCain said that the op-ed was “an insult to the intelligence of every American.”

Well, John, that’s certainly something you know about.

By the way, have you noticed the streak of masochism in John McCain?  It’s not enough that he repeatedly makes a fool of himself  in public. He must actively court ridicule by announcing to the world that he is going to write a “rebuttal” to Putin’s op-Ed for Pravda. I’ve always suspected that the editors of Pravda had a cruel streak.  Now I know it.  Imagine, inviting John McCain to write (or at least sign) a column responding to Putin’s masterly dance around the liberal pieties that inform “debate” in Washington. It’s like leaving Anthony Weiner alone with his internet-connected cell phone: you can count on excruciating embarrassment for the protagonist.

But I digress. What was it about Putin’s op-ed that so inflamed establishment opinion? In a word, it is the fact that it was a perfectly accurate mirror.  The Washington nomenklatura  and their liberal enablers looked into Putin’s op-ed and they saw a most hideous sight: their own rancid clichés repeated back to them in mocking, church-like tones.  “A Plea for Caution From Russia” — how dare he say to us what we have been saying to troglodytic conservatives for decades? And in our paper,  the New York Times. (That was Putin’s final act of genius, to publish  his column in the liberals’ own Bible, where his high-horse moralistic tones — right down to his concluding invocation of God and equality — would be sure to echo most forcefully.) That pulpit had been hitherto reserved for liberal demagogues: how dare a renegade like Putin don the cassock and deliver our own sermon to us?  What gall! What effrontery!

For that was his sin: saying to liberals what liberals for years have been saying to anyone who would listen.  As James Piereson pointed out in a stellar column yesterday, “what President Putin said in his column is pretty much what American liberals and leftists have been saying about the United States since the 1960s.” Go back and take a look at what he wrote. If you feel your palms getting slightly moist, if there is some clutching at the back of your throat, if, like Senator Menendez, you “almost want to vomit,” it’s because your own emetic pieties are particularly noxious when they are first regurgitated by someone else.  Those are those hardest to swallow. Piereson is right: “there is nothing the least bit new or controversial in anything Mr. Putin wrote in his column.” It’s just what leftists from Obama on down have been saying for years, only now someone else is saying it to them.

What, after all, did Putin actually argue in that column? Piereson cites three things:

  1. It is contrary to international law for a member of the  United Nations to attack another country without UN approval.  But isn’t that just what leftists always say whenever there’s a conservative in charge?  Go back and watch some re-runs from the second Bush administration.  Of course, Bush actually did  get UN approval for attacking Iraq, but that’s as irrelevant as the fact that he assembled a large coalition of partners to conduct the attack. What matters is the UN-friendly rhetoric that is perpetually oozing out of leftist purlieus.
  2. Major powers (especially major powers called the United States) should not intervene in the internal conflicts of other countries.
  3. The United States is not an “exceptional” nation.  This perfidious belief, as Piereson puts it, “promotes a sense that the United States is not bound by conventional rule of international conduct. Since Americans believe they are exceptional . . . they believe they can make their own rules.” That’s what Putin said.  But isn’t that exactly what every  left-wing government bureaucrat from Samantha Power on down has always maintained? Isn’t it exactly the sort of thing you expect to hear from every tenured radical in the academy, from every over-coiffed newscaster with a multi-million-dollar contract to worry about?

Barack Obama, as Piereson observes, has at one time or another expressed support for all three of Putin’s main points:

During the 2008 presidential campaign, he said that the intervention in Iraq was illegal because it was not authorized by the United Nations. In 2009, when asked about American exceptionalism, President Obama said, “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” In other words, we are all exceptional alike, just as Mr. Putin said.

Ouch. Will this large and gooey omelet  splattered over the countenance of left-wing self-satisfaction make any long-term difference?  Probably not. The linguistic curiosity that “shameful” and “shameless” are synonyms will doubtless once again come into play. It would, as Piereson says, be a good thing if leftists shelved for good “their doctrines about diversity, multiculturalism, and American imperialism.” But don’t count on it. The next time — and God willing, it will be soon — that a Republican occupies the White House you can be sure that leftists will once again “dust off Mr. Putin’s principles and put them into play once more.” Just wait.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
There is an old saying, those whom the gods intend to destroy, they first make mad.
Roger Kimball is right and its obviousness just adds to the bitter irony of the situation.
Considering the many things we take for granted today, that even 20 years ago would not have been tolerated, I would say that we have gone mad as a country. There's truth in that old saying. It's happening as Orwell predicted in his novel '1984' just a couple of decades off. Putin is just playing to the culture we've collectively created, making fun of an America that would elect a blatant liar and con artist, whose mendacity, cronyism and mediocrity are breathtaking. Putin is not the problem, Obama is and all who support him. ... now where did I put that travel brochure to Oceania?
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
First, the UN, despite its self-assertion, has no authority over the decisions of sovereign nations. Whether Resolution 1441 did or did not authorize the use of force if Iraq failed to comply with the UN resolutions is, as I'm sure you know, still a subject of debate. Resolution 678 authorized the use of force if Iraq failed to deal with the UN's requirements regarding its WMD, chemical weapons, biological weapons etc - which DID exist and had been used.

The point, however, is that Bush DID go to the UN and to the Security Council, which regularly vetoes force anyway - and DID get a large coalition of, not just words, but of over 40 nations supplying troops, weapons, etc. Obama did none of this - but then, we know that Obama deals only in words anyway (as shown by Putin whose op-ed was a copy of Obama-rhetoric).
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
It was an insulting, mocking piece and I would have been insulted except that I knew it wasn't me he was talking to or about. It is tragic that our Country has sunk so low that we can be so mocked. This was the sneering condescending tone of the lefty community organizer or public employee union rep. Putin and his people were pitch perfect and I can hear Comrade Obama sounding just like that as he talked to and about bankers or business owners in his community organizer days.

We've not been mocked like that since German and Japanese propaganda in WWII, even Soviet propaganda during the Cold War was more respectful towards the US. Well, the communist SOB meant to take the US down a notch or two and he's succeeded. No, not Putin, the communist SOB that the 52% of Americans who are idiots elected.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (78)
All Comments   (78)
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What we’ve seen is an epic clash of narcissists.

Putin’s silky, effortless narcissism is what the left can’t abide.

Putin has had the audacity to serve up his own smug, condescending self to Obama on a silver platter as if it is one of the great diplomatic gifts of all time. Putin has set himself forth as a great gift, a beacon of light for Obama’s sheep.

This has traditionally been the President’s prerogative. This has been how Obama presents himself to the American people. He has gifted us with himself; he has enlightened us with himself.

Hence the sting.

The only thing capable of piercing a narcissistic ego is another narcissistic ego. And the goo that oozes out ain’t pretty.

30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Isn't it perverse that someone who is vicious, heartless, immoral and often downright evil would have the gall to preach to the leaders of a nation that has secured the freedom of millions across the years ? Of course these leaders find themselves in an echo chamber they themselves created. Leave it to history to say whether and to what extent the United States is or was exceptional. We have elected and re-elected someone clearly unexceptional and his leadership is now being mocked by political peers.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I've long held that no human being can endure what John McCain endured at the hands of those bastard-communists without being terribly damaged, mentally, emotionally, physically. McCain will always be a hero, but the tragic mental damage is beginning to manifest.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
McCain a hero? How?

Because he gave sensitive information to the enemy? Because he collaborated with his captors in a way that got lesser men (you know, in a not-son-of-an-admiral kind of way) court-martialed and dishonorably discharged?

McCain performed ONE honorable act when he refused early release.


Many held up to far more than McCain, and kept their mouths shut. Many died in the process.

I'll reserve my admiration, and the title, "hero" for those men, thank you.

Oh, and even if he had been a hero in Viet Nam, his perfidy in office since then has long wiped out any credit he might have deserved.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Terry, your point that Roger's claim that Bush got UN approval is not true is accurate - as I said however - the claim is debated and certainly the UN itself denies that he got approval while others claim that he did- but my point has nothing to do with this. I question whether or not the UN ought to be the judge of whether or not a sovereign nation goes to war.

There's no point in saying that S. Hussein didn't get UN approval for Kuwait; that Putin didn't get UN approval for Georgia; that Clinton didn't get UN approval for Kosovo. The UN has no role. The point is, that who and why says that a sovereign nation is required to get UN approval (almost impossible given the makeup of the Security Council) before a war? For the UN to declare that without its august approval, a war is 'illegal' is nonsense.

There's no such thing as an illegal or legal war. A war is a war. Period. It is between sovereign nations. Now, 'punishment' for infractions of international standards of treatment of civilians, humanitarian, etc - those can be termed as legal or illegal actions. And the UN can play its corrupt games in those instances. But war? No.

31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
ETAB, I've read some of your comments on this and other stories. I particularly liked your comments on the "Olympus Has Fallen" story. I would be interested in reading other things you've written if you could point me to them. If you're not published, you should be!
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Then you should honestly call for a revision of the UN charter or for our leaving the UN.

Personally, I'm all for leaving.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
When Fox News looks you in the eye and says, "Fair and balanced. We report, you decide." Well, you know they aren't taking the micky out of the Sacramento Bee. So I award Vlad the Impaler both ears and the tail for getting his 'picture on the cover of the Rolling Stone'. With apologies to Dr Hook.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
This episode elevates Putin in the eyes of the world. The guy is pretty much a jackass, but after throwing down the gauntlet on Kerry's Syria's chemical weapons gaffe, he pulls this off, rubbing liberals' noses in their own filth. I'd wager that Putin and his crew were surprised that the NYT actually ran the op-ed.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Shameful=shameless? Really?
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes. A person called "shameless" does shameful things because he is (presumably) not held back by shameful feelings.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
The best part of all is that Obama knows, at some level anyway, that Putin and Lavrov call him the Indonesian Imbecile behind his back.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Behind his back? They are pretty much saying it to his face.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
I call him Obamateur the obnoxious amateur.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
The reaction to Putin's op ed in the NYT was a pretty weird one. The worst of the known left and the worst of the "undercover" left had such an allergic reaction to what they have been saying about America all along. I guess their own disease came back to infect them. Viruses are funny like that....they mutate. How's that change, Lefties?
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
There is an old saying, those whom the gods intend to destroy, they first make mad.
Roger Kimball is right and its obviousness just adds to the bitter irony of the situation.
Considering the many things we take for granted today, that even 20 years ago would not have been tolerated, I would say that we have gone mad as a country. There's truth in that old saying. It's happening as Orwell predicted in his novel '1984' just a couple of decades off. Putin is just playing to the culture we've collectively created, making fun of an America that would elect a blatant liar and con artist, whose mendacity, cronyism and mediocrity are breathtaking. Putin is not the problem, Obama is and all who support him. ... now where did I put that travel brochure to Oceania?
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
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