NR Digital

Vlad the Conservative

by Andrew Stuttaford
So says Pat Buchanan

Back in the mid 1980s, Pat Buchanan was the communications director for the Reagan White House, and Vladimir Putin was a KGB officer in East Germany. Times change: The former Soviet secret policeman — if there is such a thing as a “former” Soviet secret policeman — is, after a bogus intermission, now serving a third term as Russia’s president, and the old Cold Warrior seems to have become something of a fan. Writing in his syndicated column in December, Buchanan wondered whether, “in the culture war for mankind’s future,” Putin was in fact “one of us.”

The immediate trigger for Buchanan’s comments was Putin’s state-of-the-nation address just a few days before. Stung, probably, by criticism of gay-bashing legislation in Russia, Putin had taken aim at “the destruction of traditional values” elsewhere in the world — by which he meant the West — and, just so there could be no doubt about what he was referring to, had thrown in a reference to “so-called tolerance, neutered and barren.” No stranger to chutzpah, Putin, an unlikely champion of the ballot box, noted that these changes to “moral values and ethical norms” had come “from above” and were “contrary to the will of the majority.” As such, they were “essentially anti-democratic.”

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