CPAC knows they can't praise Putin anymore — so they're turning to Hungary's autocratic ruler: conservative
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban will meet US President Donald Trump at the White House on May 13 (AFP Photo/ATTILA KISBENEDEK)

On Wednesday, writing for The Bulwark, conservative writer Charlie Sykes noted a new trend: right-wing lobbyists like the American Conservative Union, host of the Conservative Political Action Conference, are realizing they can no longer praise Vladimir Putin directly as news of his war crimes in Ukraine unfolds — but they have a new strategy: praising autocratic Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán, whose party just won re-election this weekend and who is himself a supporter of Putin.

"Increasingly, the right has also decided to launder its Putinism though their support for Putin’s leading European ally, Viktor Orbán," wrote Sykes. Moreover, he noted, "the newly re-elected Hungarian strongman has made no secret of his position on the war," blaming the Ukraine invasion on the "international left" and Jewish humanitarian philanthropist George Soros.

And through this, Sykes wrote, "Even as the bodies are still being gathered in the suburbs of Kyiv, as the death toll of children mounts, and Putin continues to target civilians in his campaign of genocide, CPAC has decided to go ahead with its festival of Orbánism," meeting in Budapest. "As it often does, CPAC is following the lead of the right’s entertainment wing. Tucker Carlson has emerged as Orbán’s leading American fluffer, broadcasting from Budapest last year, and airing a fawning interview of the new avatar of illiberalism."

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"While Orbán’s appeal may be elusive to those of you who think that liberal democracy defines the West, his attraction for Tucker and other elements of the right is obvious," wrote Sykes. "A substantial faction of the conservative movement now regards his government 'which censors LGBT content, demonizes immigrants and ethnic minorities, extols the virtues of the traditional family, and feuds constantly with the supposed globalists of the European Union' as a political model. In other words, Orbán gives them that sweet autocratic dopamine hit they so desperately crave, without the whole rotting corpse, war crime, genocide thing."

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