For the moment, Zelenskyy has made the Republicans change their tune

NEWFANE — His leadership has been breathtaking. So has the courage and true patriotism of the Ukrainian people.

Make no mistake: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's life is on the line. Russian President Vladimir Putin is threatened by him, and now, with the world moved by his heroism, with the contrast of the democrat versus the despot, David versus Goliath, Putin is put to shame and is more motivated than ever to get rid of him.

Putin has trained assassins searching for Zelenskyy, even as the Russian army has been slowed by thousands of acts of bravery by many average Ukrainian citizens.

The conflict says a lot about both men.

And with more and more Russians protesting the stupidity and scandalous shame of Putin's actions, it says a lot about the deeper spirit and desire of young Russians to be free, to build their lives, to build their country.

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The older Russians are too often caught in the mentality of the Cold War, of Soviet thinking, of the ghost of Stalin.

But the young Russians are not watching state TV, getting the propaganda filled with lies, such as the claim that Zelenskyy (who is Jewish and lost relatives in the Holocaust) is a Nazi. Instead, the young Russians are on social media, getting much of the true story that slips by their country's censors.

With Putin's latest speeches, it shows he is living in a diluted image of past Soviet glories, the one in which, when the census officers told Stalin that 30 million people(1) were unaccounted for, he had the census officers shot.

For Putin, these were the good old days, and he has expressed his admiration for Stalin many times in the past few years.

But here is Zelenskyy. Many think that an actor and comedian by training would not be prepared for this moment on the world stage.

They would be wrong.

The type of discipline that is demanded in the arts, like sports, is rigorous and momentous. But that alone would not give Zelenskyy the profound tenacity, fortitude, and courageous perseverance that has inspired the world.

It is something in the man himself - something totally his own but also so reflective of his people. He has the spirit that we have seen in the likes of Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, and Abraham Lincoln.

He has the dedication to what is right.

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Here in this country, on the extreme political right, Putin has been given unqualified praise. Such politicians used to proclaim his so-called “strength and cunning” rapturously.

Two days before the invasion, our former president, Donald Trump, called Putin a genius for sending “peace keepers” into parts of Ukraine. Trump's former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, talked about his admiration for Putin, and of course right-wingnut Tucker Carlson has said that “Americans have been trained to hate Putin, and will suffer because of it.”

These comments appeared on Russian TV, adding to the Putin propaganda machine. As a poet once said, “it is the blind leading the blindfolded.”

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Even a few Republicans have had to admit that President Joe Biden has done a brilliant job bringing the West and much of the rest of the world to join in opposition to Putin. Biden has rehabilitated NATO after Trump, with the enthusiastic support of his pal Putin, tried to destroy it.

Of course, Biden will not get the credit he rightfully deserves.

The Republicans will say that Putin invaded because Biden is weak. They don't want the president to get the acknowledgment the rest of the world is giving him because they don't want any Democrat to be seen as doing a good job for the country. And because of that, they are forced into a peculiar and bizarre posture of being un-American, even while they claim patriotism.

For the moment, Zelenskyy has made the Republicans change their tune. Suddenly, even they have to admit they were wrong about him, about Putin, and about Ukraine.

A nation of heroes can do that.

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