After Volodymyr Zelensky delivered a rousing speech to U.S. lawmakers this week, Tucker Carlson unleashed a diatribe that put schoolyard sadists everywhere to shame. “No one’s ever addressed the United States Congress in a sweatshirt before,” he seethed, slamming Zelensky as a “strip club” manager whose presence was “humiliating” to “the greatest country on Earth.”
Carlson’s attack on the Ukrainian president, whose olive green garb was meant to dramatize his country’s wartime plight, has sparked outrage because of its demeaning quality at a time of extraordinary duress for the Ukrainian people. But this episode deserves a deeper look than Carlson’s adolescent belittling usually merits.
Carlson’s rant carried a more hateful edge than usual, a kind of shrill fury. Perhaps that’s because Zelensky’s presence before Congress was far more humiliating to Carlson and his ideological comrades than to anyone else: It demonstrated how badly they misjudged Ukraine’s will to resist Russian conquest and the durability of the U.S. commitment to our beleaguered ally.
This represents the failure of a worldview, a strain of far-right authoritarian populism, that goes well beyond Ukraine. A whole lot of things have happened that — in Carlson’s mental universe — were not supposed to happen. [Continue reading…]