Letter from the Editor 

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Republicans may have finally found their candidate for 2016. He is, according to Fox News analyst, Ralph Peters: "... a real leader." Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is also excited about what this new candidate will bring: "He decides what he wants to do and does it in half a day. He makes a decision and executes it quickly, and everybody reacts. That's what you call a real leader."

I'm talking, of course, about the man who conservatives and neo-cons are currently wetting their pants over: Russian President Vladimir Putin. Yes, the communist leader who fixes elections, jails his political opponents, has invaded Chechens, the Republic of Georgia, and Ukraine, and has repressed religious freedoms and gay rights, is now a hero to the right. Conservative icons such as Bill Kristol, Pat Buchanan, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and Sarah Palin, to name just a few, are rushing to praise the mighty Vlad.

"People look at Putin as one who wrestles bears and drills for oil, and our President wears mom jeans and equivocates," Palin gushed. Another Fox analyst said, "In Putin, you've got a big strong guy, muscular and shirtless on a horse who wrestles tigers, while the President wears mom jeans."

I don't know if this means Putin wrestles bears and his horse wrestles tigers, or that Putin wrestles bears and tigers (probably at once), but he is the leader conservatives have been waiting for. I guess we should have gotten a clue when former President George W. Bush claimed to have "looked into his soul." Dreamy.

And there's a new email going around from one of the many we-hate-Obama websites. It has side-by-side photo comparisons of Obama and Putin, and is called "Macho Putin vs. Girly-Boy Obama." It starts with photos of both men's mothers (Obama's was a "slutty feminist," you know), and goes on from there: Shirtless Putin rides horses; Obama rides bikes with a helmet. Putin plays with rifles; Obama plays with squirt guns with his kids. Putin drives race-cars; Obama drives his daughters in a bumper car. Putin plays hockey; Obama plays golf. On it goes. And you don't even want to know about the spouse comparison.

Many of the Obama photos show him with his family, while all the Putin pictures are solo shots. So much for "family values." It's impossible for me to imagine communist-hating conservatives doing this with any other president. The level of hatred goes beyond politics. It's venal.

Interestingly, last month's emails from the same crowd — before the current crisis in Crimea — were all about how Obama is a dictatorial strongman who ignores Congress and is using unbridled executive powers to take away our guns, our religious freedoms, and our rights. He's even setting up internment camps for his enemies. Last month, Obama was a ruthless dictator, kind of like, well, Vladimir Putin. Now he's a girly man?

I just wish these people would make up their minds. Assuming they have minds.

Bruce VanWyngarden

brucev@memphisflyer.com

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