Steve King was on CNN yesterday to explain to us all that Vladimir Putin is no real danger to free speech because, hey, Garry Kasparov is still alive! No, really:

King told CNN on Sunday that Trump’s critics were overreacting.

“I don’t think his words came out very well,” he explained. “I agree that there is no a moral equivalency between the United States and Russia, although when I listened to one of the senators that said Putin is against freedom of religion, he’s actually been opening things up for the expansion of especially the Russian Orthodox Church.”

“They’re not much for freedom of the press,” King admitted. “But since, I would say, [chess champion and Putin opponent] Garry Kasparov, now he lives in the United States but he lived for a long time in Russia and had a very loud megaphone against the regime and he’s still alive and well.”

“Donald Trump has played a complex gambit in the Art of the Deal, and so I say, let’s see how this comes out.”

I was a partisan once, and there is a playbook you follow as a partisan when stories like this hit.

  • If possible, question the source, even when there is primary source material in the post that makes the identity of the source irrelevant. (Really, Patterico? Alternet?)
  • Claim a possible lack of context — again, despite the presence of the original source material.
  • Recharacterize the ridiculous statement as less offensive than it really is and defend the new statement. (I don’t think it’s so crazy to say Putin tolerates more dissent than Hitler or Stalin did!)
  • To quoque, aka what aboutism, aka “you mean like”-ism. (King is irresponsible? You mean like Obama’s reset/Hillary murdering ambassadors in Benghazi/[insert possibly exaggerated Obama-era travesty here]?
  • Ignore the story.
  • If some annoying blogger puts it in your face anyway, attack the blogger for never going after the left, even if he did that very morning.
  • Pick a specific story you believe the blogger should have written about, and — rather than politely bringing it to the blogger’s attention and asking if he is interested in discussing it — harangue the blogger for posting on the story you didn’t like while failing to post on the story you did like.

Even when I was a partisan, I think I usually avoided this type of behavior — but I know I slipped into it from time to time. Thank God I no longer feel even the slightest desire to do so.

Rather than mount my own response, let me just quote Kasparov’s own reaction today, set forth in several tweets:

This is the result of Trumpism. Trump says something absurd and irresponsible, and submorons like King feel the need to rush to defend him. And the atmosphere they create puts the lives of dissidents at risk.

I knew this would happen. It’s why I quit the GOP on May 3, 2016. As long as this type of stuff goes on, there’s not much chance I’ll rejoin.

Here’s your video:

[Disclaimer]