CSotD: Useful Idiots and a Dead Hero

The term “useful idiots” was not coined by Lenin, but it still means what we thought it meant, and Maartin Wolterink (Cartoon Movement) depicts a post-Lenin Russian leader flanked by a pair of his most useful idiots, as he munches contentedly on roast Ukraine.

Dave Whamond takes a shot at Tucker Carlson, who had the misfortune of solidifying his position as Putin’s most obvious stooge just before the death of Alexei Navalny but just after little Tucker had casually dismissed the tendency of dictators to murder their opposition.

By the way, Tuck, you can’t brag about being the only Western journalist to interview Putin and then say you didn’t ask about Navalny because that’s what all the journalists ask. You had a blank page, and left it that way.

Nor should you dismiss political murder as the cost of leadership. Carlson has since explained that he only meant theoretical murder, not the kind with real victims and real blood. Or something like that.

Before his cheerful remarks about murder went aground, his cheerful rapture over grocery carts that require a coin and return it when the cart is put back got plenty of horselaughs. Like a lot of people, I remembered grocery stores here had those cart in the early 90s, and I also remembered seeing them in the form of luggage carts at Union Station in Chicago in 1984.

What his little Moscow travelogue mostly brought to mind, however, was a guy in college who went to Cuba to harvest sugar cane for a couple of weeks, took a few guided tours and came back an expert on Castro’s Workers’ Paradise and got into a spirited debate with a fellow who thought he knew more about Cuba by virtue of having lived there most of his life.

It’s so much easier to be sure of yourself when you have no idea what you’re talking about.

The other useful idiot in Wolterink’s depiction is in a stronger position. He has been aligning the GOP with Russia since his election in 2016, not just denying his connections but having his AG edit the Mueller Report to cleanse things.

Rick McKee (Counterpoint) observes that when GOP party leaders break ranks and declare that the Russians have some kind of megaweapon poised to launch into space, Trump can just keep quiet and let them chatter until they remember the rules and fall back into proper party discipline.

As Bill Bramhall suggests, silence doesn’t just imply consent but, in such fraught moments, amounts to active support.

And as long as the Republican Party is, as Scott Stantis accuses, being run on the basis of loyalty, Putin may not have much to worry about from that side of the aisle.

JD Crowe points out that Putin has an entire cadre of useful idiots serving in the US Congress, many of them in safe MAGAt seats from which they seem unlikely to be rousted.

As long as Trump remains loyal to Russia, and as long as the Freedom Caucus tail continues to wag the Republican dog, the only concern for Putin is that Biden not find ways to get around the congressional gridlock.

Juxtaposition of the Day

Ann Telnaes

Marco de Angelis — Cartoon Movement

Ann Telnaes, who is active in worldwide press freedom groups, drew a furious cartoon when Putin had Anna Politkovskaja murdered in 2006, but now simply depicts Putin chalking up yet another silenced troublemaker.

Similarly, de Angelis shows Putin completely comfortable with his record of killing those who question his authority. And it’s interesting to note that, while many of those dead dissenters were assassinated or poisoned or hurled from windows, we don’t have a cause of death for Navalny.

It hardly matters whether it was an active killing or the result of cruel imprisonment or of the aftereffects of the first murder attempt. Putin has been blamed by everyone.

Except Trump, who deflected media queries on the topic by attacking Joe Biden.

Trump seems immortal, and perhaps not even as vulnerable as regular immortals.

Clay Bennett (CTFP) shows the number of cases in which the wooden stake has apparently been driven into the chest of Donald Trump, and yet he continues to stand. He still turns out good crowds for speeches that seem more illogical, incoherent and unhinged each time, but still evoke shouts of approval and rounds of applause.

As has been observed by several people, Biden gets attacked for every verbal slip, but Trump gets away not only with repeated slips but with meaningless filler and obvious lies, because nobody expects him to speak sensibly or honestly. He’s not a politician; he’s an entertainer, and saying ridiculous things is part of his expected schtick.

People love Archie Bunker. And a good number of them are gonna vote for him in November.

As Guy Body suggests, Putin only wishes he could make his people ignore his missteps as readily as Trump can duck responsibility here.

Somehow, he’s gotten away with the other murders, or seemed to, but Navalny has left a larger mark on Russia, and will not be so easily buried and forgotten.

And, Andy Davey notes, those who wish to commemorate, and perhaps institute, democracy apparently don’t mind being hauled away for their bad behavior.

Things may die down in the streets, but they won’t disappear from the hearts. And, although his return to Russia seemed certain to end this way, Navalny was right that, had he stayed safely in the West, writing furious pieces from a safe distance, he would not have had such a profound impact on his fellow Russians.

The whole world is watching Russia, and the Russians are watching each other, while, from Switzerland, Patrick Chappatte makes a graphic statement by turning the Z that Russia has been using as a symbol in its invasion of Ukraine to an N, indicating the grief now seen in Russian streets.

I’ve never liked the Russian use of “Z.” Back in the early 60s, the letter was scrawled on walls in Greece in defiance of the junta, standing for “He lives,” after the political murder of reformist Gregoris Lambrakis.

It was turned into a novel, and then a movie with great impact on my generation.

Maybe it’s time to watch it again.

3 thoughts on “CSotD: Useful Idiots and a Dead Hero

  1. I dunno what to think of Tucker these days. This is the guy that even Fox News doesn’t want to be associated with anymore. We can’t just ignore him, even though we probably should. Oh well.

    It’s disturbing to me that the GOP wants so badly for Trump to be America’s Putin, and he seems to be every bit as untouchable.

    It’s hard to stay optimistic when teetering on the edge of disaster.
    Sure, we should all vote in November. But what good is voting when one side refuses to accept the results? If Trump loses 2024 (and believe me he will be on the ballot), who’s the say the next Jan 6 won’t be successful?

    What happens then?

  2. Didn’t 45 call for a mob after one of his trials, and nobody came? I think Jan. 6 may have been the peak of his influence; everyone knows they’d get arrested now.

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