Puttin’ up with Putin

It is not difficult to get a fix on Barack Obama’s view of the world. It is the view of the leftover left that took the side of the Soviet Union in the Cold War. Obama seems not to have changed his views or to have learned anything since his days as a college student in which he performed as a “useful idiot” for the Soviet Union.

A year ago, in the context of Obama’s confidential message to “Vladimir” — Russian President Vladimir Putin — I took a stab at trying to capture Obama’s perspective in “Obama’s useful idiocy: A look back.” As for “Vladimir,” I think we can assert with confidence: Message received.

What about Putin’s view of the world? To us it is foreign, it is difficult to understand, it is dense, it is somewhat irrational, it may even be a bit impenetrable. I am quite confident, however, that Samuel Johnson’s refutation of Bishop Berkeley as related by James Boswell applies to the case:

After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley’s ingenious sophistry to prove the nonexistence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it — “I refute it thus.”

Putin won’t be stopped before he comes up against a large stone, a/k/a an immovable object. Even the editors of the Washington Post understand what is happening.

This week Putin spoke to the Federation Council as he sought its approval accepting Crimea and Sevastopol as part of Russia. What is going on here? This is worth a look (transcript here):

Columns of interest that take up the speech include Kathleen Parker’s “Being Vladimir Putin” and Glenn Kessler’s “Fact checking Vladimir Putin’s speech on Crimea,” both from the Washington Post.


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