“Useful idiots” was a term frequently employed by anti-communist Republicans to describe Western intellectuals and leftists who admired and extolled the virtues of the Soviet Union. In a strange twist, that description now could be applied to the prominent conservatives who have become admirers and apologists for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It is not hard to imagine that the words “useful idiot” entered Putin’s mind on those occasions when he met with ex-President Donald Trump. Trump fawned over Putin like a fanboy when he was in the White House and, now that he sits sulking amid the chintzy opulence of Mar-a-Lago, he continues to express wonder at Putin’s mastery and guile.

Rather than recoiling from the murderous treachery of Putin’s brutal invasion of sovereign Ukraine, Trump seems absolutely giddy about the Russian autocrat’s cleverness, calling Putin a “genius” and describing the invasion as “a wonderful move.”

Another dupe for Putin is Fox TV commentator Tucker Carlson. Carlson began his career in punditry as sort of a bow tie-wearing, Southern California preppie version of William F. Buckley (without Buckley’s vast vocabulary), but he has turned himself into a sad caricature with his pseudo-Socratic way of presenting every outlandish opinion as “just asking questions.”

His question this week was “why should I hate Putin?” Putin has never done anything personally to him, Carlson said, so why should he care about a “border dispute” with Ukraine. By Carlson’s definition, the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939 was a mere border dispute.

Thankfully, there are plenty of Republican leaders who recognize the threat to free nations posed by Putin’s aggression, but, among the MAGA crowd, useful idiocy is rampant. 

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