After Nemstov Assassination, Conservatives Have a Putin Problem


Rudy Giuliani, two weeks ago:

“Putin decides what he wants to do, and he does it in half a day. Then everybody reacts. That’s what you call a leader. President Obama, he’s got to think about it. He’s got to go over it again. He’s got to talk to more people about it.”

Mitt Romney, this morning:

What a difference the assassination of a dissident makes.

Conservative media’s praise of foreign leaders as a foil for what they consider Obama’s fecklessness on the world stage, which at times has included Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordan’s King Abdullah, has always landed most awkwardly with regard to Putin. Lauding Putin as the epitome of an aggressive, decisive leader required ignoring both his lawless intrusion into eastern Ukraine and his repressive domestic policies, ranging from brutalizing Russia’s gay population to crumpling its independent press — the very actions that were also the demonstrations of his enviable will to power. All this while conservatives have called everything from the ACA’s individual mandate to the recent Keystone veto proof positive of Obama’s nascent tyranny.

Turns out, tyrants murder dissidents. The closure of the gap between desire and action, supposedly the mark of leadership, is highly correlated with the repression of those who disagree with those desires. The unilateral “decisiveness” that conservatives want Obama to demonstrate against foreign enemies is highly correlated with unilateral aggressiveness at home. Who knew? And now that we know, can we stop praising the leadership of foreign tyrants to score cable news points against a political rival at home?

[Image via Frederic Legrand – COMEO /]

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