Who won the Tucker Carlson/Ralph Peters cable news fight last night?

If you don’t want to watch it all, things start crackling at around 5:00 below when Peters compares Tucker to a Lindbergh-style America Firster apologizing for Hitler in the 30s. Per Godwin’s Law, I believe that makes Carlson officially the winner by disqualification.

I think he wins on points too, with Peters mostly flailing around about how evil Putin and Assad are, although Carlson’s logic varies as needed. At base he’s giving Peters a hard dose of nationalism: We deal with dirtbags abroad all the time to advance U.S. interests so why draw any bright moral lines around dealing with Russia, Iran, or Syria? If we can gain something by looking the other way at Saudi Arabia’s brand of fascism, surely we can gain something by extending Putin the same courtesy. Watch how he equivocates, though, when Peters challenges him on Assad. The American nationalist take on Assad should be “Yeah, he’s a monster but he’s the least bad option available.” Morals have nothing to do with it. Tucker, however, flags the number of Christians who lived without persecution under the Assad regime, which does provide Assad with some moral cover never mind the occasional gassing and 500,000 dead.

That’s what Peters is worried about. Being ruthless in America’s interests yet clear-eyed about the nature of America’s would-be partners is difficult because human beings don’t like to believe themselves allied with evil. Either the conscience revolts at the alliance eventually or the conscience weakens and grasps for reasons to believe that partner isn’t evil after all. We’re not quite there yet with Putin but we’re getting there:

The Tucker plan also imagines that Russia and Iran would be willing to ally meaningfully with the United States despite the fact that the ruling regimes in both countries use anti-Americanism to help justify their own continued rule. Without the Satanic western imperialists posing an existential threat, why would either country need ruthless authoritarians in charge to protect them? Anyway, it’s a solid debate, worth your time, with Carlson landing plenty of hard shots as to why he should trust Peters’s judgment on confronting the axis of evil in Syria after he encouraged America to confront Saddam Hussein in Iraq. As a Twitter pal said last night, Fox News would be a far more interesting channel if it regularly mapped ideological fault lines on the right this way instead of spending so much time MAGA-ing. Gotta give the people what they want, I guess.