At least the trains run on time

My friend, confidant and personal selection to lead mankind’s first mission to Mars, Vladimir Putin, is once again in the news.

Frequent readers of my column will know that I?have been a staunch proponent of Prime President Putin for years. Did he earn my respect for dressing up like a bird, climbing into a motorized hang glider and helping a flock of Siberian cranes find their way during migration? Or was it when he hired former action movie … participant … Steven Seagal to lead a nationwide physical fitness program? How about the time he hired Boyz II Men to perform a Valentine’s Day concert to increase the birth rate in Russia?

Sure, it could have been any one of those instance, or any of the dozens of others where Putin fought bears, stole Super Bowl rings or generally carried himself like he was the bad guy in a James Bond movie.

No; I, like so many of my fellow Americans, felt the warm light of a new dawn when President Bush the Second held his first, historic meeting with Putin.

Bush, using the talents he acquired through years of managing the Texas Rangers and using cocaine, told Americans everywhere that Putin was an “OK dude.”

Ok, those weren’t his actual words, but we all know that’s what Bush II was thinking. His actual words were “I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul.”

That quote has been getting bandied about quite a bit as of late by the American political left, considering that Prime President Putin may or may not have just instigated an armed invasion of a neighboring country.

And I say the “American political Left” because 1: Nobody on the Left misses a chance to remind everybody that Bush II was a ludicrous example of a president and 2: The American political right is falling in love with Putin all over again.

If you’re expecting to read the word “bromance” in this column you will be left wanting; that’s exactly the kind of wretched portmanteau that I believe warrants exile upon an ice floe.

The political right (GOP, FOX, et al.) are having trouble hiding their ever increasing love of Putin. From Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., in response to the recent military situation in Crimea, saying “Putin is playing chess and I think we’re playing marbles,” to conservative icon and professionally unemployed Sarah Palin saying “And you know, look, people are looking at Putin as one who wrestles bears and drills for oil. They look at our president as one who wears mom jeans and equivocates and bloviates.”

I don’t know who got Palin the thesaurus for Christmas but good job. Now try a subscription to a newspaper that doesn’t have the word “patriot” in the name.

See, Putin meets all the GOPs “must haves” for a favorite leader; he’s not Obama … that’s a big one, and he “gets things done.”

Yes, that great high water mark of political success “getting things done;” to find that unequivocal joy that comes from accomplishing a task without any bother from dissenters or opposition or democracy. A sentiment extolled upon with lofty rhetoric by great political philosophers like Aristotle, Adam Smith and Larry the Cable Guy.

And Benito Mussolini.

Yes, the man who called himself “The Boss” before Springsteen was a glimmer in the eye of a lone man on Highway 29, Benito Mussolini was the unquestioned dictator and fascist ruler of all of Italy, right up to the point the Italian people dragged his executed body to the center of Milan and hung him upside down from a meat hook.

The Italians had become less than impressed by Mussolini.

Yet even with all of the horrible atrocities that Mussolini afflicted upon the world there is always one phrase uttered in his defense: “At least he made the trains run on time.”

The Italian train system had been abysmal since its inception and when punctuality started to improve during the fascist days, Mussolini took credit for it. Never mind the fact that the rail improvements started years before Mussolini came to power and that he had nothing to do with them. You see he may be a murderous madman and an iron fisted dictator BUT he could … say it with me … “Get things done.”

The only problem was, he couldn’t.

The Italian rail system was a little better, but since they only had to improve from “total garbage” to “Within an hour of scheduled time” the end result was still a shoddy, mismanaged transportation system.

I paid Iowa State University a lot of money for a history degree just to know things like this.

Turns out that Mussolini knew the fantasy of fascism is efficiency, but the true power of fascism is lying. So he just lied about the trains, and the economy and the war and the birthright of all men and women to be free of oppression for simply disagreeing with the people in charge. Fascists lie big and they lie often.

So while the GOP/FOX is fawning over the authoritarian resolve of Prime President Putin let’s remember that authoritarians are the bad guys, even if they do possess that most appealing quality of “not being Obama.” And authoritarianism is something all Americans are supposed to be against; a lot of Americans died to prove that point.

Also – you guys are liking Putin for all the wrong reasons. The guy hangs out with Steven Seagal, listens to New Jack Swing music AND fights polar bears. I say we get him out of authoritarian politics and into a reality show. Have him do a “wife swap” thing with Palin since she likes him so much. I know I’d watch.