The Cult of Vladimir Putin Meets the Real World

World Wrestling Entertainment’s Lana (C.J. Perry), manager of the “Bulgarian Brute” Alexander Rusev (Miroslav Barnyashev) heaps praise on Russia’s president and she seems to be right: Russians love themselves some Vladimir Putin.

Gallup reported on July 18 that “President Vladimir Putin’s popularity in Russia is now at its highest level in years.”

The 29-percentage-point increase in Putin’s job approval between 2013 and 2014 suggests he has solidified his previously shaky support base. For the first time since 2008, a majority of Russians (73%) believe their country’s leadership is leading them in the right direction. This renewed faith is apparent in their record-level confidence in the country’s military (78%), their national government (64%), and honesty of elections (39%).


What Gallup tells us echoes closely the rhetoric of Lana, who has called Putin “a true leader who practices what he preaches” and “the most powerful and dominant president in the world.”

“He makes fools out of every one of you,” she tells audiences. When she brags, “You are merely pawns in his game of global dominance,” it is easy to believe Putin thinks the same.

She warns audiences, “America, change your ways and follow this true leader. He is a nation builder and long ago should have won the Nobel Peace Prize.”

Nobel Peace Prize…probably not. The rest of the world was happy to see Barack Obama when he took office. Putin, like Bush, is the kind of guy who makes his neighbors nervous. We can’t call it Cowboy Diplomacy but can we perhaps call it Cossack?

Russia under Putin is, for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, flexing its muscles. Some might point to the fact that the United States has also recently been flexing its muscles, having just ended one war in Iraq and finishing up (we hope) another in Afghanistan.

In a way, it’s hard to blame Vladimir Putin for thinking he should be able to do what George W. Bush did, and much closer to home. It is difficult to argue that the United States had more vested interest in Iraq than Russia does in its own backyard.

When the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power says, “Russia can end this war,” she said. “Russia must end this war” we must hear her words in the context of two decade-long American wars we could have ended, and did not. If anyone knows this, the United States – and the American people – should: Wars are easier to start than to finish.

From the other side of the world, American protestations must sound hollow and hypocritical.

It might be pointed out as well that Republicans are eager to have another war and don’t seem particularly picky about the identity of the opponent. After all, though Putin is ultimately responsible for what happened, John McCain decided to blame Obama instead.

Each new crisis brings calls from people like John McCain to invade somebody, anybody, to show the world America means business. In this case, Ukraine should have had some missiles too. Apparently more missiles in the sky results in fewer passenger jets shot down.

And this comes from a guy who was shot down by a missile – a Russian missile. A missile, it might be pointed out, McCain didn’t try very hard to avoid.

The sad truth is that the last thing America – and the world – need is the kind of business Republicans want to engage in. War, by feeding the military industrial complex, makes Republicans rich. We get that. But it makes Americans – and again, the world – poorer. Not only in the economic cost, but in the loss of life. In tearing families away from their homes and turning them into refugees. In killing innocents. As in the destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

In this case, the killers were supplied by the Russian military. But they could as easily have been supplied by American. Either way, as Obama said Friday, the destruction of MH17 was an “outrage of unspeakable proportions.” So, it might be pointed out, was the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.

It is unlikely Russians will choose to believe their president is responsible for the tragedy. Putin has already blamed the Ukraine, saying, “The government over whose territory it occurred is responsible for this terrible tragedy.” Except for the inconvenient fact that the plane was shot down over an area controlled by Russian separatists supplied by Putin’s government.

Gallup tells us this popularity has been,

propelled by a groundswell of national pride with the annexation of Crimea in March on the heels of the Sochi Olympic Games in February. The 83% of Russians saying they approve of Putin’s leadership in late April/early June ties his previous high rating in 2008 when he left office the first time.

It might be noted here, while talking about popularity, that McCain’s own body, Congress, is much less popular with Americans than Putin is with Russians.

Now that they’ve got the Crimea back, Russians are less thrilled with the cause of separatists in the Ukraine these days, we are told by experts, but it’s anybody’s guess at this point how the destruction of MH17 will effect Putin’s policy decisions.

Just as WWE closely mirrored Tea Party rhetoric with their “Real Americans” storyline, even to the extent of directly quoting Tea Party figures (to truly hilarious Tea Party outrage), real life has been more or less accurately reflected in this new storyline:

Russians’ positivity also colors other aspects of their lives. While Americans have become less satisfied with their freedom to choose what they do with their lives, Russians became more satisfied in 2014. A record-high 65% of Russians are satisfied with their freedom. Some of this may be attributable to improving economic perceptions. Despite U.S. and European sanctions earlier this year over Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine, more Russians see their economy getting better now than has been the case since 2008. However, the economic outlook still remains relatively weak, with 35% of Russians saying conditions are getting better and 19% saying they are getting worse, and the jobs outlook has not improved.

As Justin Baragona wrote here yesterday of the tragic fruits of the Russian president’s increased bellicosity, “As for Putin, this horrific tragedy is an embarrassment on a massive scale.”

But if Bush and his gang can ignore embarrassment on a massive scale, there is no doubt Putin can do the same. It’s easy if you insist the truth is what you say it is despite all evidence to the contrary, if you pretend you did nothing wrong. The problem for Putin is not dissatisfaction at home but the difficult position he has put himself in with regard his neighbors and the world’s only remaining superpower.

I suspect the rest of us are just beginning to find out what it was like for the rest of the world to have George W. Bush at the helm of a powerful nation, a nation which loves Vladimir Putin.

24 Replies to “The Cult of Vladimir Putin Meets the Real World”

  1. Again, I say let those big shots in congress that want blood , be the first ones on line to fight. They have no interest in our young boys. So just stick there —– out there to fight.It is easy for them to sit on there — and try to tell the President what to do. Let the President do his job , and shut the —- up.

  2. I wish I was callous enough to understand how killing innocents, either in Ukraine, or Palestine, or right here at home, is somehow worthy of praise. Are we not all of one Creator? And if so, who are we to place more value on white males in America than on any other people? Who are the Israelis to use our money and our weapons to beat down another group of people? Who are the Russians to shoot down an airliner from the sky? And who was Hitler if not made of the same arrogant fluff? Rich white males needing to dominate others.
    I am so tired of defending my pacifism and my love for all people from the ignorant, selfish, “Christian” RW who is all for ‘personhood,’ and no taxes, no regulation on corps,and war and torture, but totally against women having fruitful, meaningful lives that may or may not include children. It’s ridiculous. Disagree with Roe all you like, but you should not use your religious views and force them on anyone else. Jesus didn’t force anyone to follow him,….

  3. The Cult Putin belongs to is called CONSERVATISM which is causing harm and chaos across the globe. We need to stop the Conservative Agenda, which is at its end game. If they get any more power in our government, we will effectively lose our democracy. If they get any more power in our churches, most religions will be seen and treated as a cult. Stop voting for conservatives please! President Obama has earned having two years with a congress who will work with him to the betterment of all people.

  4. I would call into question any polls of the Russian people in regards to Putin. He can’t even overlook the protests by Pussy Riot. I think he is driven by an insecurity complex that is hidden deep in his psyche.

    As for McCain and the warmongers I would quote Sun Tzu;
    “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

    “No leader should put troops in the field merely to gratify his spleen; no leader should fight a battle simply out of pique.”

    “There is no instance of a nation benefiting from prolonged warfare.”

    Perhaps McCain and co. should read the book.

  5. The same people who are critical of Obama, and all seem to know what is best (McCain I’m thinking about you) did not utter a peep when under Reagan an American destroyer shot down a civilian plane and killed about 300 people, Reagan did his cowardly thing and kept hidden for about 4 days and later sent the elder George Bush to cover for the US at the UN. They later paid a large amount of compensation. I was in England during much of the Reagan presidency but remember one instance when he was going to invade Grenada, a tiny island with a massive american force, he was getting cold feet and a confidante of Maggie Thatcher mentioned that at the time Maggie had to say to him ‘come on Ronnie, now is the not the time to go all wobbly’
    Reagan was very good at taking credit for things that he had nothing to do with like the fall of the cold war wall in Berlin, he was good at acting. I had visited behind the wall before the fall and it was in no doubt that it was going to come down.

  6. You are so right, Joan! I believe Pope John Paul was instrumental in bringing down the Berlin Wall and ending communism. But Reagan did take a lot of credit for things he did not do! If only the Republicans/tea party in DC could be 1/4 of the man that Pope JOhn Paul was things would be better here.

  7. The last country’s population to be fooled by its leader this way was the Federal Republic of Germany, and we all know what happened there. This time, however, it may lead to World War I I I.

  8. McCain stands as an outlier here. Most republicans and conservatives are barely getting the nerve to break up with Putin. Military action is just not on the table. Sanctions are however. Putin’s trump card is nat gas. If Europe can’t ween off i they have no real leverage here.

  9. I think Europe is learning. Right now they are pushing renewables like solar and wind. I just wish we would do the same here but the stupid among us wont let us. Remember when Carter was pushing Solar and even had panels on the White House roof, well when Reagan came in he gutted the program. Just imagined how much further we would be if we put the same effort in renewables than we do with dirty energy.

  10. Actually, it was Bush/Cheney taking us into the “Graveyard of Empires” on a tissue of lies.

    The classic ‘if the people are unhappy, give them someone to blame it on.’

  11. Germany now generates almost 50% of its energy with solar. in a country that only gets 22% sunny days per year.

    The great lie is that we need oil and gas. Once we realize we don’t need it any more than we need whale oil, the Oil kings will vanquished.

  12. It has to be said….the Russians are Barbarians. Period. Not allowing the world to approach that “crime scene” to retrieve the bodies their loved ones is, in my mind, despicable. To all of you PUTIN lovers here in America. What do you have to say know about your beloved PUTIN? Not allowing his “freedom fighters” to allow the right people to come in and remove those bodies in a dignified manner? He can give the order RIGHT NOW! what’s the delay all about? !!! Yet, I see comments, sickening comments, that support PUTIN! How can you folks live with yourselves? Blaming Obama for this is so sick! It tells who and where your mind is. Your failure to put the blame on HIM tells us how pathetic and gruesome your mind is. Go away! Please.

  13. WHY is the American press reporting on Putin’s so called “Popularity” in his country? We KNOW that they vote for him or else. So to me that poll does not mean a F#@ng thing.

  14. Putin has a lot of Explainin” to do. Will McCain and his sissy side kick allow him to do it? Or will they continue to blame our President for the downing of Flight MH- 07?

  15. djchefron: I agree 100% your comment. Let me add, We now know that Republicans, since Reagan, their “Prince” have dismissed any scientific principles and go along with the “the world is flat” Yahoos. (I am being sarcastic here)

  16. The Russian economy is in shambles. Through the 2000’s it was growing around seven percent now it is crawling barely above recession. With the sanctions hopefully being added on top of the ones already in place Russia is in big trouble economically. While back here in the good ole US of A the labor market is pumping out 240,000 jobs per month. And yet we are told by the mainstream media Obama is a failure while Putin is a “real leader”. President Obama is kicking tail and taking names. He does not need to climb on a horse and take off his shirt while conservative white males drool over his “masculinity”. Obama is in it for the long game.

  17. Therein lies the problem. The lunatic fringe seldom has time to read as reading might lead to knowledge, knowledge might create logic which we all know as the intellectual antithesis of a learned man.

    These guys are too busy theorizing why people of color are incapable of decision making, especially those not catering to their special interests aka – 1%.

    Restraint, intellectual pursuit of truth, diplomacy; concepts alien to the right as they don’t pad the wallets of the Bush/Cheney War Machine. What the right hates most about President Obama is his willingness to help those in need. You know, all those drug addicted entitlement sucking 47%ers-like me on Social Security.

    Forget working for 55 years, forget two tours in VN, forget raising three productive, educated children. To the right, I am a mooch and drain on society.

    America has become a political Twilight Zone. The solution is simple, get off your asses and vote. Let’s show the Kochs and the Pope who really run the…..

  18. J2P2 sure was the man. Ask the tens of thousands of church sanctioned sexually molested little boys around the world. J2P2 did not have the courage to admit there was a problem and a cardinal was instrumental in numerous cover-ups.

    Credit to Frank though. He recently said that 2% of padres are probably gay. Maybe he meant to say 2% are probably NOT gay.

  19. Too bad OUR domestic Putin lovers weren’t in Russia back in the Cold War when their buddy Vlad was the head of the KGB. He was a real leader.

  20. I do not want to stir up the sap but only to ask if anyone read a longish portrait of Putin that appeared in one of the magazines with reading, possibly The New Yorker or maybe The Atlantic, or maybe even Harper’s. I take all three but do not keep them. I cannot find this piece online. The author was a dissident or emigre, I seem to think, and the painted a portrait of Putin that was chilling. A KGB thug who did favors for the bureau in St. Petersberg before making himself indispensable due to his Republican equivalence, complete with shirtless flexing of the muscles and acting as stubborn as a jackass. Ladies and Gentlemen: Meet the New Russia. Putin is its tzar.

  21. Just when I think, the republican right and their poster bully boy Putin can’t disgust me any more. Then one or both of them do. Every single republican that has praised Putin in writing, or on video or audio should be deported to Russia and have their U.S. citizenship revoked. Putin, the GOP, both the despicable of the disgusting, and both totally anti-American.

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