I have stumbled upon a comment on some blog explaining the large number of civilians killed in the 1999 NATO attack on Serbia by Serbs’ “irrational behavior,” the fact that they supported Milosevic during the bombings instead of doing away with him. In economic matters, I prefer to postulate people are tautologically rational–it’s their preferences that may change. In this case, I’m no judge of rationality; but I know it is common and normal for people to rally around their leaders when their country is attacked.
A mild version of that was Americans’ support for Bush after 9/11. Even those who couldn’t stand the man stood behind him in those critical days. The same defense mechanism probably kicks off when an American who believes Bush fraudulently sneaked into the Oval Office bumps into a highfalutin Continental moralizer whose version of Bush is the standard “cowboy–dumbass–drunk–coke addict–executioner” track. The American would cringe and, unless a sissy, strike back, perhaps inelegantly. Likewise, hearing a pompous American ignoramus trashing Putin for all the wrong reasons does not amuse me a bit.