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Putin: Leader of the conservatives?

Yes — until something better comes along

By The Mercury

Fun couple of the future: How about Vladimir Putin and Sarah Palin, arm in arm?

Ms. Palin once ludicrously claimed that she could “see Russia from her house,” but now it turns out that Mr. Putin has his vulture-like vision working in the other direction.

The Russian president, and let’s remember that the guy is still a ruthless KGB thug, rather suddenly has positioned himself as leader of the world’s conservatives.

Yes, he’s including our home-grown American right wing — and some of them agree that Mr. Putin’s rants against homosexuality and what he calls “the multiculturalism of the West” could resonate outside Russia.

“While his stance as a defender of traditional values has drawn the mockery of Western media and cultural elites, Putin is not wrong in saying that he can speak for much of mankind,” wrote conservative broadcaster and former Nixon speechwriter Patrick Buchanan.

“Putin may be seeing the future with more clarity than Americans caught in a Cold War paradigm. Conservatives and traditionalists in every country (are) arrayed against the militant secularism of a multicultural and transnational elite.”

Mr. Putin’s last “press conference” ran past four hours. But does the Russian boss really believe his own speeches, however long they might be?

After all, this is a man who began the year announcing his own divorce on TV, and seems to be closing it by anointing himself as the planet’s leading champion of family values.

It’s probably more accurate to cast Mr. Putin as the ultimate cold-eyed opportunist.

Other than strong-arm tactics and a rather hopeless love affair with himself, Mr. Putin has no real orthodoxy beyond his own needs at any particular moment.

He had no qualms about tossing two members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot in jail, along with 30 Greenpeace activists — after all, these are the sort of people who might agitate for “multicultural values” — yet Mr. Putin was also savvy enough to release all 32 of them last week.

Has he gone soft?

No, he’s keenly aware that the 2014 Winter Olympics — and therefore the eyes of the world — will be in the Russian village of Sochi next month.

Mr. Putin went so far as to pardon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once the richest man in the country, after 10 years in prison for what amounted to nothing more than political dissent.

Mr. Khodorkovsky has a large following, both inside and outside Russia, and Mr. Putin has judged that with the Olympics coming, he’d rather have his old foe ranting from exile in Germany than writing commentaries from one of Russia’s own gulags.


Mr. Putin as unquestioned leader of a global conservative movement?

Sure, until he finds a cause that better suits his whims.

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