On Friday, in a widely condemned speech in which he laid claim to territory of a neighboring country, Vladimir Putin only spent about 15 minutes talking about Ukraine. In the rest of his speech, Putin spent his time attacking the West for “perversions” that have “completely moved to a radical denial of moral norms, religion, and family.”
“Do we really want perversions that lead to degradation and extinction to be imposed on children in our schools from the primary grades?” asked Putin. “To be drummed into them that there are various supposed genders besides women and men, and to be offered a sex change operation?”
That familiar sounding passage was just one part of a tirade in which Putin waved away his own atrocities while providing a list of reasons that the West, and the United States in particular, had to be crushed. It was a speech full of vast conspiracies going back centuries, of claims to be leading an anti-colonial movement while annexing territory at gunpoint, and of threats on every conceivable scale. Including nuclear. It was a ridiculous and revolting speech, one that inverted the idea of justice and drew heavily from fascist themes going back a century.
But it certainly had its supporters.
In his speech, Putin not only claimed that primary school kids are being offered gender reassignment surgery, he declared that America was denying the proper role of men, plotting the “overthrow of faith and traditional values,” killing religious freedom, and creating “a reverse religion that is outright Satanism.”
Putin went on to blame the United States for blowing up the Nord Stream pipeline, and laughed at how politicians trying to use less fossil fuels have to “convince their fellow citizens to eat less, wash less often, and dress warmer at home.” Then he talked about how, in the West those who question the government are “immediately declared enemies, extremists and radicals.”
In other words, Putin delivered a typical evening with Tucker Carlson, or Sean Hannity, or any other Fox host. It’s little wonder that those at CPAC were singing the praises of Putin … even as Putin was threatening to use nuclear weapons and declaring that he was going to crush the West. Because why not? They want that too.
Totally uncoincidentally, Donald Trump went on his failing social media platform this week to join Putin in blaming the United States for the sabotage of the two pipelines (spoiler alert: Russia did it), and to offer himself as the leader of a group that would officially sanction Putin’s land grab in Ukraine through “negotiations.” Carlson was right on this same topic, devoting his show not only to claims that the United States was responsible for the pipelines, but doing some highly dramatic pearl-clutching over the idea that Russia could possibly be involved.
Putin stood on the stage and called for “the collapse of Western hegemony” and said that “The battlefield to which fate and history have called us is the battlefield for our people, for great historical Russia.” The bussed in apparatchiks responded with resounding applause.
But no one appears to be more enthusiastic about returning Ukraine “to it’s historic motherland” than the people at CPAC. Because the destruction of America is their goal as much as Putin’s. And if that means supporting Putin in his military invasion and annexation of a neighbor, they will certainly go there, explicitly tweeting out a message that the United States should let Putin have his way.
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This week on The Downballot we check in on Pennsylvania, where Republican Doug Mastriano has called for "40 days of fasting and prayer" to save his ailing campaign for governor; dig into ad spending numbers that show Democrats airing far more spots because they aren't relying on super PACs; circle back to the J.R. Majewski stolen valor scandal, which prompted the NRCC to cut him loose; and recap the dispiriting results of Italy's general election, which saw the far-right win for the first time since Mussolini.