A century has now passed since the death of Lenin in January 1924. But “useful idiots” — the term usually attributed to Lenin — are still making the trek to the Kremlin to broadcast Russia’s message back to the west. The latest in this long line of credulous foreigners is Tucker Carlson, a self-styled journalist, whose interview with Vladimir Putin was broadcast last week.
A key characteristic of the useful idiot is insularity. Typically, they are obsessed by domestic political vendettas. They look to a foreign leader such as Putin (or before him, Castro or Mao) to validate their own parochial obsessions. Carlson used his audience with Putin to ask a series of leading questions, hoping the Russian leader would chuck back some red meat for the Maga crowd in the US. Did Putin think that America was a system “not run by people who are elected?” Did Putin regard himself as a Christian leader? Is Joe Biden’s administration undermining the dollar? Did US vice-president Kamala Harris try to provoke Russia into war? Is President Volodymyr Zelenskyy simply a puppet of the Biden administration?