God and Putin: Pat Buchanan's startling insight

"Russia is remaking itself as the leader of the anti-Western world," says author Masha Gessen, who has written a book on Russian President Vladimir Putin. "But the war to be waged is not with rockets," writes conservative columnist Pat Buchanan. "It is a cultural, social, moral war where Russia's role, in Putin's words, is to 'prevent movement backward and downward, into chaotic darkness and a return to a primitive state.'"

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Buchanan says he was "startled to read" recently that among the World Council of Families' "'ten best trends' in the world in 2013, number one was 'Russia Emerges as Pro-Family Leader.'"

"While the other super-powers march to a pagan world-view," Buchanan quotes the WCF's Allan Carlson, "Russia is defending Judeo-Christian values. During the Soviet era, Western communists flocked to Moscow. This year, World Congress of Families VII will be held in Moscow, Sept. 10-12."

"Will Vladimir Putin give the keynote?" asks Buchanan.

It is a stunning possibility. The West, says Buchanan, has capitulated to "a sexual revolution of easy divorce, rampant promiscuity, pornography, homosexuality, feminism, abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, assisted suicide — the displacement of Christian values by Hollywood values."

"In the new ideological Cold War," he asks, "whose side is God on now?"

But how much of the decadent "West" which Buchanan well describes actually defines America? Does it, for example, accurately describe the South, Texas, the Lutheran Midwest, Mormon Utah and the Southwest? Vast sweeps would identify with the World Council of Families and shockingly, with Putin and with Christian Russia. Evangelical leader Franklin Graham has recently said as much.

Buchanan's decadent West suggests instead an evolved and expanded state of Henry James's novel The Bostonians more than 120 years on now, and the "plain living and high thinking" Miss Birdseye, who James describes as "a confused, entangled, inconsequent, discursive old woman," and the historical archetype of "Boston reformers consisting of woman's rights people, mesmerists, spirituality, utopians and faded abolitionists," as described in C. Vann Woodward's classic study of the Gilded Age in The Burden of Southern History.

They came to dominance here, there and everywhere, early on under William Lloyd Garrison's anthem "Our country is the world. Our countrymen all of mankind." They dominate still, an archaic residue of the northern military victory of the 1860s.

The northeastern families and their law schools and parlors still vastly influence culture and political temperament. They still bring their families even in triplicate to presidential races and incomprehensibly, supply the legal education of virtually every Supreme Court justice on the Supreme Court even today. Virginia, Duke, Michigan, Texas and Vanderbilt are still not good enough after all this time?

What if the country people today, the Baptists in the South, the Methodists in Texas, the Presbyterians, evangelicals and fundamentalists in the hills of Billy Graham's Appalachia, simply turned away from New England dominance and tradition? Turned instead to an older tradition and an external leader like Putin to find a better path?

Jefferson, Washington and Franklin did as much when they turned to the French to defend against an actual blood relative who had suddenly become an annoyance. But possibly an American contender in 2016 — Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) — would do just as well as Putin.

The politicians, from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), are still stuck in "Munich" since the invasion of Crimea. So is Wall Street. But Russia could shake the world again. And Putin's Christian Russia will play differently in Dillon, Texas, today where they baptize in the river and watch high school football on Friday nights, than it will in Miss Birdseye's antiquated, antipodal Boston salon.

Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at quigley1985@gmail.com.