'Twisted' and 'warped' MAGA Republicans fear Justin Trudeau more than Vladimir Putin: conservative

'Twisted' and 'warped' MAGA Republicans fear Justin Trudeau more than Vladimir Putin: conservative
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At a time when Russian President Vladimir Putin appears likely to invade Ukraine, many right-wing media outlets — from Fox News to the Daily Wire to Breitbart News — are vigorously defending Putin and Hungarian strongman Viktor Orbán while arguing that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is the real authoritarian. Trudeau’s unforgivable sin, according to the MAGA far right, is enforcing vaccine and testing requirements for people entering Canada from the United States.

Conservative Daily Beast opinion writer and Never Trumper Matt Lewis, in a February 22 column, compares the MAGA movement’s views on Trudeau versus Putin — arguing that the American right has truly gone off the deep end when it considers Trudeau the enemy but defends Putin.

“If you want to understand someone’s values or worldview,” Lewis writes, “take a look at who and what provokes outrage and who and what evokes sympathy. The cognitive dissonance inherent in much of the American right can make such an examination problematic. That’s because some of the most prominent voices on the right today view Vladimir Putin as a misunderstood victim. Meanwhile, they cast Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as an authoritarian strongman.”

Lewis goes on to offer specific examples, noting that the Daily Wire’s Canace Owens tweeted, “STOP talking about Russia. Send American troops to Canada to deal with the tyrannical reign of Justin Trudeau Castro.”

The Never Trumper adds, “Or consider Fox News host Tucker Carlson, my friend — though we disagree profoundly on politics — and former boss. Carlson isn’t outraged over what is happening to Ukraine, but found time last week to bash ‘strongman’ Trudeau as ‘the dictator of Canada,’ while saying that ‘Canada canceled democracy.’ There’s also Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who says Trudeau has gone ‘full dictator.’ And J.D. Vance, celebrated author and Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Ohio, who recently declared that he ‘doesn’t really care what happens to Ukraine.’”

Lewis injects some humor into his column, noting that Marty McFly — the time-traveling Reagan-era teenager Michael J. Fox portrayed in the 1985 fantasy film “Back to the Future” — would be shocked to see so many Republicans fawning over a former KGB agent. Indeed, back in the days of Madonna, Run-D.M.C. and Duran Duran, Reagan Republicans railed against the Kremlin nonstop; now, MAGA Republicans consider Putin and his ally Orbán people to be admired.

“If the 1985 version of Marty McFly transported to 2022,” Lewis writes, “it would be impossible to explain to him why so many conservative Republicans are willing to look the other way on Russia invading a sovereign nation, while they simultaneously blast Canada for imposing consequences on protesters blocking traffic…. To be clear, Putin is a former KGB agent and an actual authoritarian. He literally kills and imprisons his critics. And don’t forget the little matter of 100,000 of his troops massed on the Ukrainian border.”

Lewis adds, “Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau is the elected leader of a free nation. He took action to restore law and order after three weeks of truckers blocking traffic and generally disturbing the peace.”

The conservative Lewis has spent plenty of time bashing the left, but he has been a blistering critic of former President Donald Trump and the MAGA movement. And he wraps up his February 22 column by stressing that MAGA Republicans are as “warped” now as they were when Trump was still in the White House.

“If you find someone willing to defend Vladimir Putin for threatening to invade and kill his neighbors, while simultaneously calling Justin Trudeau a ‘dictator’ for shutting down a lawless protest after three weeks, you have found someone who either is intellectually dishonest or has a warped sense of reality,” Lewis warns. “If you thought the gaslighting would end with Trump, you were wrong. The American right is getting in the habit of calling evil good and good evil. It’s a truly twisted and perverse perception of a dangerous world, and the scary thing is, it’s catching on.”

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