Political pilgrimage revisited

On his current visit to Moscow Tucker Carlson is repeating the old phenomenon of political pilgrimage. Paul Hollander devoted an entire book to it 40 years ago — Political Pilgrims: Western Intellectuals in Search of the Good Society (1981). (The original subtitle of the book was Travels of Western Intellectuals to the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba.)

Hollander’s book was a powerful antidote to the phenomenon, but it did not put an end to it. Since Hollander’s history was published, Tom Friedman has been wowed by Communist China. Bernie Sanders honeymooned in the Soviet Union. Ray Suarez fell in love with Castro’s Cuba. In the video below Tucker digs the orderliness on display at the Moscow subway station.

Students of ancient history might recall that Charles Lindbergh was impressed by his visits to German factories and airfields in the late 1930s as well. He joined the leadership of the America First Committee in early 1941 and drew on what he thought he had learned in Germany for his famous September 1941 speech at the America First rally in Des Moines. Lynne Olson’s Those Angry Days provides a gripping account.

As a political tourist, Tucker purports only to be asking questions. I think that’s just a tad disingenuous. I suspect there is a statement behind his questions. Like Tom Friedman, Tucker is big on the “infrastructure.” As for Vladimir Putin, “you may not like him either.” Again, Tucker remains discreet. He doesn’t say what he thinks, but he must think Putin has something going for him.

As long as Tucker is just asking questions, however, I have one of my own. I wonder if he has any idea what a fool he is making of himself.

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