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“The Right’s Rekindled Affection For Russia’s Putin”: Back To Drawing Hearts On Their Pictures Of Putin

It was early last year when Republicans decided Russian President Vladimir Putin was an autocrat worthy of their gushing affections. In March 2014, Rudy Giuliani (R) said of Putin, “That’s what you call a leader.” The same month, Mike Rogers, at the time the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, expressed his own admiration: “Putin is playing chess and I think we are playing marbles, and I don’t think it’s even close. They’ve been running circles around us.”

At one point last summer, a Fox News personality went so far as to say she wanted to see Putin serve as “head of the United States,” at least for a little while.

By late last year, however, Republicans were no longer drawing hearts on their pictures of Putin. Russia’s economy was deteriorating quickly; Putin was isolated on the international stage; Russia’s standing and credibility around the world was in tatters; and the sanctions President Obama helped impose on Russia were making a real difference.

Suddenly, the U.S. conservatives who’d enrolled in the Putin fan-club fell quiet, realizing that their contempt for the American president led them to praise the wrong foreign leader.

As of this week, however, many Republicans have apparently come full circle.

One day after President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin made little headway in their standoff over Syria at their first formal meeting in more than two years, Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump is agreeing with Putin on his backing of Syrian President Bashar Assad. […]

 “I will tell you that, in terms of leadership, [Putin’s] getting an ‘A’ and our president is not doing so well,” he said.

Jennifer Rubin, a conservative voice at the Washington Post, added this morning, “In taking this action just days after meeting with President Obama, Putin is delivering one more finger in the eye of a president whom he continues to out-wit and out-muscle.”

Yes, we’ve apparently reached the point again at which Republicans once more see Putin as some kind of strategic mastermind.

As the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman explained yesterday, [T]oday’s reigning cliche is that the wily fox, President Vladimir Putin of Russia, has once again outmaneuvered the flat-footed Americans, by deploying some troops, planes and tanks to Syria to buttress the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and to fight the Islamic State forces threatening him. If only we had a president who was so daring, so tough, so smart…. Putin stupidly went into Syria looking for a cheap sugar high to show his people that Russia is still a world power.”

For Republicans, the response seems to be, “At least Putin is going after targets in Syria.” What the White House’s GOP critics have refused to acknowledge for the last 14 months is that President Obama has launched thousands of airstrikes against ISIS targets.

There are two main differences between Putin’s engagement in Syria and Obama’s. The first is that the size of Obama’s military commitment is vastly larger. The second is that Russian lawmakers actually authorized Putin’s mission, while the Republican-run Congress in the United States has done literally nothing since the American military offensive began in August 2014, preferring to watch developments unfold on TV while Obama’s mission continues.

Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum added this morning, “Do you know how many military bases the US has in the Middle East? Nearly two dozen. Plus the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean and the Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf. Plus a whole bunch of close allies. And we’re supposed to be quaking in our boots because Putin hastily upgraded a single aging base in Latakia under pressure from his sole remaining ally? You’re kidding, right?”

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, October 1, 2015

October 2, 2015 Posted by | GOP, Syria, Vladimir Putin | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Against Putin, Obama Gets The Last Laugh”: Where Did All The Republicans Go Who Heralded Putin As A Strategic Mastermind?

In his State of the Union address last week, President Obama didn’t name names, but he reminded some of his critics in the Republican Party that their praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin was sadly mistaken.

“Last year, as we were doing the hard work of imposing sanctions along with our allies, as we were reinforcing our presence with frontline states, Mr. Putin’s aggression it was suggested was ‘a masterful display’ of ‘strategy and strength.’ That’s what I heard from some folks,” Obama said. “Well, today, it is America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated with its economy in tatters. That’s how America leads – not with bluster, but with persistent, steady resolve.”

Obama had reason to feel good – and take a not-so-subtle dig at Putin’s GOP fans. Not only is the American recovery gaining strength, but as Matt O’Brien explained yesterday, Russia’s credit rating was downgraded this week to “junk” status.

[I]f Russia is rated junk, then its companies will be too – which will increase the borrowing costs on their existing debt. It could also trigger earlier bond repayments, which, together with the higher interest rates, could, according to one official, cost them as much as $20 to $30 billion.

And that’s $20 to $30 billion it really can’t afford. Russia, as I’ve said before, doesn’t have an economy so much as an oil-exporting business that subsidizes everything else. But it can’t subsidize much when prices are only $50-a-barrel.

The confluence of economic events unfolding in Russia is amazing: cheap gas, banks in need of a bailout, crashing currency, high interest rates, and an inability to repay debts, all against the backdrop of additional sanctions.

There’s no reason conditions are going to improve in Russia anytime soon and Putin doesn’t know what to do next.

With these developments in mind, I’m curious: where did all the Republicans go who heralded Putin as a strategic mastermind? Where are the Fox News personalities who liked the idea of Putin leading the United States?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, January 28, 2015

 

They seem to have fallen quietly lately. Maybe someone should ask them whether they stand by their previous gushing over the Russian autocrat.

January 29, 2015 Posted by | GOP, Russia, Vladimir Putin | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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