The world is crazy. And by ‘crazy’, I don’t mean ‘white goods at unbeatable prices’ kinda crazy or even ‘you don’t have to be crazy to work here, but it helps’ coffee mug crazy but, rather, crazy in the most totally and irretrievably deranged, brutal sense imaginable. Doubtless, there are some incredibly intelligent people who can give extraordinary and insightful analysis as to why Ukraine has been invaded. But for all their dissections of history and geo-political tensions, the whole thing seems to boil down to one, simple proposition – Vladimir Putin is a jerk.
And by ‘jerk’, I don’t mean ‘wouldn’t let me merge whilst trying to get on the Eastern Freeway’ type of jerk or even ‘he pushed in front of me and bought the last remaining boysenberry choc-top at the mid-afternoon screening of House of Gucci’ kind of jerk. I’m talking about turbo-charged, supersonic jerkdom that’s so gigantic that it casts a shadow for miles and can be seen from space. We’re talking ‘Hall of Fame’ jerkiness that will be remembered. Forever.
I mistakenly assumed everyone felt the way I did. After all, it’s not hard to hate a guy whose hobbies include poisoning his enemies and annexing the Crimea. This is someone who went his entire childhood without smiling. Chances are, he only smiles now when he’s stealing a kitten or putting his rubbish in someone else’s wheelie bin. But not everyone thinks he’s a cad.
I’ve never met Tucker Carlson. I did, however, write to him once when he said that Australia ‘has no freedom’. My letter informed him his comments had gone down like the proverbial cold cup of sick and that instead of having ‘no freedom’, we have so much of the stuff that it sits around in buckets. That was seven years ago and I’m beginning to suspect he may not write back.
Tucker had a lot to say in the days preceding the invasion. In particular, he encouraged his viewers to question why they hate Vladimir Putin. The answer, ‘because it’s deeply satisfying’ was, apparently, not good enough. Instead, he implored those watching to ask themselves a series of questions as a means of determining whether it was fair to dislike a murderous autocrat.
The first question was ‘Has Putin ever called me racist?’ I’m not sure that Putin has called me anything, but I put that down to luck. To date, we’ve never met. But if we did, I’m certain he’d steal my bathroom soaps, extinguish his cigar in my pot plant before kicking the gate on the way out. That’s if he even agreed to leave. Knowing my luck, he’d annex the living room and spend the evening watching re-runs of ‘Perfect Strangers’ (he’s a big fan of Balki, apparently).
Tucker’s second question was even more penetrating: ‘Has Putin ever threatened to fire me for disagreeing with him?’ Not me, personally. But he has a pretty handy record of assassinating opposition leaders and adding a spoonful of Novichok to someone’s tea when a sachet of Sweet’n low would have been more appropriate. Now that I think of it, getting fired by Vladimir Putin would be the least of your problems. I’m really not sure what point Tucker was trying to make.
It didn’t end there. Tucker also asked whether Putin had ‘manufactured a worldwide pandemic that wrecked your business?’ It’s not a theory I’ve heard, but I’d say it can neither be ruled in or out. The questions then came thick and fast. ‘Is he teaching my children to embrace racial discrimination?’ (I don’t believe he’s registered as a teacher, so possibly not). ‘Is he making Fentanyl?’ (Definitely – he’s got a thing for pharmaceuticals.) It ended with the somewhat mystifying ‘Does he eat dogs?’ (I can’t say for sure but, on balance, probably.)
Before I had so much a chance to finish writing down my answers, Tucker spoiled it by adding, ‘The answer to all these questions is no’. I had one ‘no’, a couple of ‘yeses’ and a ‘maybe’. I’m not sure what the point of the exercise was, save that it’s surely the worst decision tree, ever.
Things only got freakier from there. He referred to the tensions (and, frankly, imminent invasion) as a ‘border dispute’. That’s a bit like describing Ebola as a case of the sniffles. Tucker then compared the ‘border dispute’ with a decision to allow ‘the world’ (presumably tourists) to enter America. He then made what can only be described as the stupidest statement ever uttered on television, which given the humdingers that preceded it, is saying something – noting that situation is described as ‘equitable’ and the other a ‘war crime’. The difference, of course, is tanks. Generally, if you turn up in a tank there’s a chance that your arrival will be viewed as hostile. Or maybe that’s just me.
P.J. O’Rourke would have had plenty to say about the current state of affairs. He passed away a couple of weeks ago. I loved how he wrote about politics. Insightful, hilarious and biting. He’d have had plenty to say about Tucker Carlson. P.J. and I didn’t always agree, but he’d have agreed with me on this much – Vladimir Putin is a jerk.