Opinion: The Right’s Rising Authoritarian Ally

Nikolai Patrushev — a longtime Putin ally — would 'almost certainly' replace Putin if he falls ill, predicts former British intelligence chief

  Nikolai Patrushev — a longtime Putin ally — would 'almost certainly' replace Putin if he falls ill, predicts former British intelligence chief Speculation over a possible Putin replacement has surged in recent months amid conflicting reports that the president's health could be in decline.Speculation over a possible Putin replacement has surged in recent months amid conflicting reports that the Russian leader's health could be in decline. Kremlin insiders have even quietly begun discussing potential successors in case Putin is forced out over the Ukrainian invasion or succumbs to a hypothetical illness, according to reports.

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I’m sorry to say it: We really must talk about CPAC.

But first, here are three new stories from The Atlantic.

  • Alex Jones can’t pretend his way out of this reality.
  • To Putin, Brittney Griner is a pawn. To the U.S., she’s a person.
  • The coronavirus has one strategy we can’t vaccinate against.
Fringe Benefit

Today in Dallas, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán gave a speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. You heard that correctly! The leader of an Indiana-sized European country traveled 5,000 miles to speak at an American political gathering best known for its fringe characters and own-the-libs merchandise. If it sounds strange, that’s because it is. Strange and bad.

It's the uncertainty, stupid

  It's the uncertainty, stupid SCRANTON, Pa — Ask a restaurant owner how difficult the COVID era has been, and the list of struggles is lengthy — loss of customers, supply chain problems, doubling and sometimes tripling of food costs, utility costs, and the ability to find or keep workers. Many business owners will tell you their revenue has returned to pre-COVID numbers, but that the cost to get there has eroded their profits. They are often making do without the manpower they really need, meaning they are personally working unsustainable hours. Many are opting to close. During a recent visit here, I found that several places I have frequented over the past few years have closed forever.

What Orbán said was strange too. He described Republicans and Democrats as at war with each other, and called on the right to take lessons from him. “We must find friends and allies in one another. We must coordinate a movement of our troops because we face the same challenge,” he told the audience. Coming elections in the U.S. and in Europe “will define the two fronts in the battle being fought for Western civilization.”

You might have read about Orbán already in The Atlantic, or maybe you’ve been avoiding stories about him because foreign politics can sometimes be difficult to care about. Or maybe all that autocracy talk just seemed too heavy. But you should know who Orbán is, and you should know why some on the American right admire him. Orbán has become a kind of soft autocrat in Hungary. He’s not known for killing or threatening his political opponents; instead, he simply changes the rules to cement his power.

Von der Leyen Rips Orbán Over 'Mixed-Race' Speech, CPAC Still Welcoming Him

  Von der Leyen Rips Orbán Over 'Mixed-Race' Speech, CPAC Still Welcoming Him Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán will speak at the conservative conference in Texas despite controversy in the EU over what one critic called a "Nazi diatribe.""All EU member states, including Hungary, signed up to common global values," von der Leyen told Slovakian news website aktuality.sk in response to a question about Orbán's remarks. "Discriminating on the basis of race is to trample on those values. The European Union is built on equality, tolerance, justice and fair play.

A few things to know about Orbán’s leadership:

  • He’s parlayed his election victories into constitutional changes that make it harder for his electoral opponents to win. Elections are free, in a sense, but they are not fair, experts say.
  • He’s cracked down on the Hungarian media. Orbán and his allies now own many of the papers in the country, and few independent outlets survive. This means less airtime for his opponents and less criticism of him.
  • He’s a socially conservative Christian nationalist. He’s staunchly anti-immigration, and in a recent speech, he said that he wanted to keep Hungary from becoming a “mixed-race” country.

But back to CPAC. Many American conservatives, particularly those aligned with Donald Trump, admire Orbán for how flippantly he treats his opposition, the media, and other “globalists” and “cosmopolitans.” The Orbán style of politics involves pissing off the right people—elites, liberal city folks—to appeal to his base. (Sound familiar?)

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Orbán’s American fans also appreciate his rhetoric about protecting Western civilization, and they see him as a champion for social conservatism. “If Trumpism is a political religion, Budapest is their new Rome,” William Galston, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan think tank the Brookings Institution, told me. “Viktor Orbán really is their beau ideal of a national conservative leader.”

Earlier this year, CPAC leaders actually held a conference in Budapest. Last year, Tucker Carlson hosted his Fox show from there for a week. And today, Orbán gave CPAC’s keynote speech in America. “This war is a culture war,” he said, kicking off the event. “The only thing we Hungarians can do is show you how to fight back by our own rules.” Orbán went on to describe how Hungary prevents migrants from entering illegally, upholds traditional gender norms and heterosexual marriage, and stays true to “Judeo-Christian values.”

America and Hungary are not the same. We have two different systems of government and two different constitutions. (Hungary’s constitution, crucially, is easier to change.) But Orbán’s American fans are attempting to learn from his leadership and implement its lessons here. Experts watching this unfold already see parallels in how Republicans have attempted to replace election officials with party loyalists, submit fake slates of electors, and tweak election rules.

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The most dangerous parallel is the polarization in both of our countries, the political scientist Lee Drutman told me.

“The strength of the authoritarianism on the right is fueled and serviced by the sense that the Democrats are not only the opposition party but anti-American, dangerous to this country, radical, extreme,” Drutman said. “When you have a system polarized along these identitarian fights—what does it mean to be a true Hungarian? A true American? Who’s a traitor? Who’s a patriot?—that justifies these kinds of extreme antidemocratic actions in service of victory.”


  • Why Viktor Orbán’s racism matters in the U.S.
  • Viktor Orbán’s war on intellect
Today’s News
  1. The Justice Department charged four current and former police officers in Louisville, Kentucky, for their involvement in the fatal raid of Breonna Taylor’s apartment in March 2020.
  2. The Biden administration declared the monkeypox outbreak a national health emergency, a designation that will increase funding and resources for the federal response.
  3. A day after Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, Chinese missiles struck the seas around the island in an exercise that the Chinese military said would be followed by a larger show of force.
  • Wait, What?: If Democrats lose the House this fall, Andrew Cuomo might be to blame, Molly Jong-Fast writes.
  • Deep Shtetl: Yair Rosenberg argues that pro-Israel lobbies are only backing winners in the Democratic primaries, not creating them.
  • The Weekly Planet: Robinson Meyer shares the best evidence yet that Congress’s climate bill will work.
Evening Read
(Shawna X) © Provided by The Atlantic (Shawna X)

No, My Breast Milk Is Not a Bomb

Viktor Orbán laid out his dark worldview to the American right — and they loved it

  Viktor Orbán laid out his dark worldview to the American right — and they loved it The European Union’s only autocrat came to CPAC Dallas and sold American conservatives on a vision of a Western civil war.That Orbán took the marquee spot at American conservatism’s most prominent jamboree despite his recent mask-off moment — one that led a longtime Orbán adviser to resign, calling his speech “worthy of Goebbels” — is a testament to his country’s place in the US right’s imagination. Under Orbán, Hungary has become for them something like what the Nordic countries are for some progressives: an idealized model of what they hope America could become.

By Yun Sun

Had someone asked me when I started my first job what I thought would be the greatest challenge for a female professional, I probably would have popped out some big-concept answer: gender equality, equal pay, or work-life balance. During the 18 years since, I have generally thrived as a scholar in the think-tank world. I’ve had difficult times—raising every penny to support research projects, dealing with a hostile research field in China, breaking an ankle and hopping around Burma on crutches—but nothing seemed out of reach or likely to defeat me.

Or so I thought before I became a breastfeeding mother. I can now say with confidence that traveling internationally with pumped breast milk has been the greatest challenge of my working career.

Read the full article.

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Culture Break
(A24; Searchlight Pictures / Hulu; The Atlantic) © Provided by The Atlantic (A24; Searchlight Pictures / Hulu; The Atlantic)

Read. Crack open a romance novel. They don’t deserve to be called trash.

Watch. Hulu’s Not Okay, a satire about a Millennial who gets caught in a web of lies online, shrewdly observes how the internet favors emotion over logic.

Play our daily crossword.


I’ve been lying low this week, having finally contracted the dreaded coronavirus. I’d avoided it for so long that I sort of hoped I might be immune! Alas. My case wasn’t a particularly bad one, and I tested negative after just three days, with some residual cold symptoms. For this, I thank three little pills taken twice a day. My doctor persuaded me to take the antiviral Paxlovid, even though my assumption was that young, otherwise healthy people probably shouldn’t. I’m glad he prescribed them. Within a few days, the virus had left my system, hopefully helping me avoid some of the nastier effects of long COVID. Taking it wasn’t exactly a fun experience; they aren’t lying about the metal mouth! (It helped me to suck on lemon-and-ginger hard candy.) And I’ll be keeping an eye out for a rebound infection, which just happened to President Joe Biden. But this week, I’m especially grateful to science!


This article has been updated to clarify that Tucker Carlson hosted his Fox show from Budapest last year.

Rep. Adam Schiff said the seizure of Rep. Scott Perry's phone suggests the Justice Department thinks Trump team's alternate electors plot was a crime .
Perry, an ally of former President Donald Trump, is a key figure in the DOJ investigation into the efforts to overturn the 2020 election. During a surprise hearing on Tuesday, June 28, Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House aide, also testified that former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows were among those who asked the former president for a preemptive pardon after the pro-Trump mob descended upon the Capitol on January 6, 2021.Hutchinson also previously testified that former Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio had discussed pardons with the White House but never asked for one.

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