Russian President Vladimir Putin, shown here at the commemoration of a Russian chapel in Vrsic, Slovenia. REUTERS/SRDJAN ZIVULOVIC
Peter Van Buren, Reuters: The real reason Washington calls Putin a thug
There is a near-certainty in American political speech, going back to the 1980s: When a senior United States official labels you a thug, trouble follows. “Thug” is the safest go-to word in the lexicon of American Exceptionalism.
So, it is with concern that folks are lining up at the mic to call Russian President Vladimir Putin just that. President Obama called him a “thug,” as did presidential hopeful Marco Rubio, who added “gangster” for good measure. Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan's spokesperson found fault with Putin and his whole nation, even adding an adjective: "Russia is a global menace led by a DEVIOUS thug." One rarely hears ruffian, hooligan, vandal, hoodlum or villain, but watch out for thug.
While throwing the term at Putin is tied to the weak public evidence supposedly linking Russian government hacker(s) to the Democratic National Committee computer breach, there may be larger issues in the background.
It seems the word “thug” is a sort of dog whistle that when blown signals Americans and their media to psyche up for a new fight. For example:
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WNU Editor: I always like to quote Buddha in these situations .... "when you point a finger at someone, you are actually pointing 3 at yourself".