In Impromptus today, I have a number of items concerning the state of the world, then get to the important stuff: Detroit Tiger baseball.
I begin with the idea that Putin is popular (in Russia, that is). To people in free societies, dictators often look popular. I was told for decades that Fidel Castro was popular in Cuba. Funny how he didn’t allow a free press or free elections.
Dictators have a much better grasp on their standing with people than most outsiders do.
In the Soviet period, anti-Communists like me would often hear from the Left that we were anti-Russian or “Russophobic.” No, we said: We were anti-Kremlin, anti-dictatorship. We wished the Russian people nothing but the best.
You hear the same charge from the Right today: that those of us who are anti-Kremlin or anti-Putin are “Russophobes.”
I give you a Pat Buchanan column from last week: “Time to Get Over the Russophobia.” Uh-huh. When the U.S. Congress passed the Magnitsky Act — which imposes sanctions on Russian human-rights abusers — Boris Nemtsov, looking on in the gallery, said, “This is the most pro-Russian law ever enacted by a foreign government.”
Nemtsov was the leader of the opposition to Putin. Three years later, he was gunned down on a bridge within sight of the Kremlin. That kind of thing happens to Putin critics.
Here is a choice line from the Buchanan column: “True, Vladimir Putin is an autocrat seeking a fourth term, like FDR.” Between Putin and FDR, there is no moral equivalence whatsoever. FDR didn’t off his opponents or ban them from running; he beat them in free elections.
Buchanan also writes,
China, not Russia, has the more repressive single-party Communist state.
Indeed, which of these U.S. allies shows greater tolerance than Putin’s Russia? The Philippines of Rodrigo Duterte, the Egypt of Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the Turkey of President Erdogan, or the Saudi Arabia of Prince Mohammad bin Salman?
On this, I agree with Buchanan entirely. (There are considerations of foreign policy, however. Many of them.)
Okay, on to the Tigers. In my column, I mention Aurelio Rodriguez, our erstwhile third baseman. A friend of mine writes, “For many years, he led the majors in Vowels in a First Name.”
Ha, true, I never thought of that. He touched ’em all. But sometimes there’s “y,” right?