Thursday, February 02, 2023


Boris Johnson weighed in on American politcs yesterday:
During an event Wednesday at the Atlantic Council about the war in Ukraine, Johnson called out [Tucker] Carlson specifically for both his position on the invasion — and for his grip on the American right.

“I’ve been amazed and horrified by how many people are frightened of a guy called Tucker Carlson. Has anybody heard of somebody called — has anybody heard of Tucker Carlson?” Johnson joked in response to a question about responding to Russian aggression. “What is it with this guy? All these wonderful Republicans seem somehow intimidated by his — by his perspective.”

“I haven’t watched anything that he’s said,” Johnson continued. “But I’m struck by how often this comes up. Some bad ideas are getting into — starting to infect some of the thinking around the world about what Putin stands for, what he believes in. It’s a disaster. He stands for war, aggression, systematic murder, rape and destruction. That’s what he stands for.”
I'm not a Boris Johnson fan, but I share his contempt for Tucker Carlson (and Vladimir Putin). However, I think Johnson misunderstands Carlson's role in all this.

The Republicans who are prepared to abandon Ukraine aren't afraid of Tucker Carlson. They want to be in sync with Carlson's viewers, or in many cases they sincerely agree with Carlson that Putin is a better defender of traditional values (petroleum, hating gay people) than "globalists" like Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the Western political leaders who back him.

"Why are they afraid of Tucker Carlson?" is the wrong question. The right question is "Why aren't they afraid of the danger to global stability if Vladimir Putin conquers Ukraine?" But Republicans are often heedless of the consequences of their own recklessness, because they don't think anything bad will ever happen to them as a result.

Republicans have never worried about what could happen to America as a result of their pro-gun absolutism -- they assume they won't die of gun violence. In the 1990s, they didn't worry about party members with ties to anti-government militias; they don't seem to worry now about party members with ties to the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. They seem to assume that nothing these groups might do to the country, even overthrowing a legitimately elected government, would disturb their lives. (January 6 might have been bad for the country, but if it had succeeded, a Republican would be in the White House. So it's all good!)

They don't worry about the possible consequences to the planet if we never make the transition away from fossil fuels. They don't worry about the harm to America from Gilded Age levels of inequality. They don't worry about the harm that comes to America from the near-absolute immunity the police have when they've committed acts of brutality. They don't worry about turning gay and trans people into nationwide objects of hate. If the worst happens, they assume they'll be fine.

This is just how Republicans are: If they don't believe it will affect them, it's nothing to worry about. They want whatever the base wants, or their donors want. The country can burn as far as they're concerned, as long as they're sure they'll never be singed.

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