It’s starkly amazing to watch Amanpour dash off mash notes to Mugabe, but I don’t know how well-hidden the general leftist fascination with dictatorship ever was. From the cults of the Soviet Union, Che and Castro, to the Strange New Respect some liberals were willing to show Bush enemy Saddam Hussein, their growing tendency to express admiration for communist China, and even the budding romance between liberals and Islamists, this stuff has always been there. And it always gets personal, particularly when the dictator has an outsized personality. How many nauseating media encomiums to the wisdom and towering intellect of Fidel Castro have we been forced to endure?
Part of the problem, particularly in Amanpour’s case, is the cognitive dissonance of treating a thug like Mugabe with the same legitimacy as stable representative governments. We’ve had a few recent kerfuffles surrounding the use of the very word “legitimate” to describe thug states. The sophisticated, tediously conventional internationalist begins with a foregone political conclusion – Mugabe belongs at the same table as leaders who don’t stuff ballot boxes, steal the property of political adversaries, and murder dissidents. They work backward to celebrating the remarkable longevity of said dictators while extending cheerful birthday wishes.
The Left’s alliance with radical Islam is tactical – they view themselves as having some common goals and common enemies, plus the Islamists are highly adept at using Alinsky tactics to turn the Left’s ideology against it. But a lot of the rest of this dictator-worship boils down to a frank fascinating with the sort of larger-than-life figure that only tyrants can be. This has all sorts of disturbing domestic implications, too.