Donald Trump’s Disturbing, Disqualifying Love Affair With Vladimir Putin

Donald Trump's admiration and praise for the dictatorial leader of Russia should be sufficient reason to disqualify him from being President of the United States.

Putin Smirk

During this week’s foreign policy forum on MSNBC, Donald Trump returned to an old theme, praising Russian President Vladimir Putin:

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump heaped more praise on Russian President Vladimir Putin during NBC’s Commander-in-Chief forum on Wednesday.

Citing a high approval rating, Trump suggested Putin is a better leader thanPresident Barack Obama.

“I think when he calls me ‘brilliant,’ I’ll take the compliment,” Trump said, referring to a compliment the Russian leader was rumored to have given Trump in December 2015. (Putin later denied he called Trump “brilliant,” saying he only said Trump was “a bright person.“)

“If he says great things about me, I’m gonna say great things about him,” Trump added.

Trump has praised Putin as an effective leader many times before. He has flippedon whether or not he’s met the Russian leader, claiming on the campaign trail the two have never met while previously saying he “got to know him very well.”

In July, Trump went as far as saying he hoped Russia had hacked Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s private email servers, which she used while serving as secretary of state. He declined to say whether Putin should stay out of the 2016 presidential election.

“I’m not going to tell Putin what to do. Why should I tell Putin what to do?” Trump said.

Despite attacks from Hillary Clinton and several Congressional Republicans, Trump’s campaign is standing by the candidate’s remarks and even Trump’s running mate Mike Pence agrees with him:

After Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump praised Russian President Vladimir Putin ― who has censored journalists and artists critical of him anddiscriminated against the LGBT community ― for being a better leader than President Barack Obama, his running mate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) on Thursday stood by Trump.

“I think it’s inarguable that Vladimir Putin has been a stronger leader in his country than Barack Obama has been in this country,” the GOP vice presidential nominee told CNN. “And that’s going to change the day that Donald Trump becomes president.”

At an NBC forum on national security held Wednesday, Trump said of Putin, whom he has frequently lauded: “Certainly, in that system, he’s been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader.”

Pence on Thursday clarified that Trump was not advocating for a dictatorship like Putin’s.

“Donald Trump said last night he doesn’t particularly like the system,” he said.

Other Republicans also came to Trump’s defense.

“America’s dominance in the world has retreated because of the policies, direct orders of Barack Obama, and that has allowed Putin to be more robust,” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) told MSNBC. “But if you’re a Russian looking at this thing, you’re going to think Barack Obama is weak, Putin is strong. I want a president that I see as strong and one sitting across, maybe, the chess board with Putin that I think he has a chance of winning. I don’t think anybody thinks Obama wins in that today.”

Trump is hardly the first conservative to praise Vladimir Putin, of course. Back in 2013 I noted that many so-called cultural conservatives seemed to be oddly enamored with the Russian President due to the fact that he had begun to maneuver himself into position as some sort of protector of Christianity notwithstanding the fact that religious sects other than the Russian Orthodox Church often find themselves subject to oppression not entirely dissimilar to what they experienced during the Soviet era. Since then, the praise for Putin from certain segments of the right only seems to be becoming more common notwithstanding the fact that it is well-established that this is the same person who has had political enemies murdered, used the power of the state to target and ultimately silence media outlets that have been critical of his rule, repressed freedom of speech, and, of course, used military power to invade sovereign nations and steal their territory and manipulating election results in the process. When questioned about these actions, Trump and others on the right who continue to praise Putin bizarrely dismiss them as if they are unimportant to an overall assessment of Putin as a leader. Indeed, it often seems as though these people are praising Putin in part because of the fact that he uses power to suppress those who disagree with him and get in his way.

In the end, though, the biggest reason that conservatives and people like Trump are so eager to praise Putin is because of their opposition to President Obama. Hailing Putin as a great leader is thus part of their argument that President Obama has been a weak, ineffectual leader who has failed to advance and protect American interests in the way that Putin has allegedly advanced and protected Russian interests. In many ways, the conservative view of Putin is not dissimilar to the way that many on the American left viewed Joseph Stalin in the 1930s, and at least back then the people who praised Stalin had the excuse that most of what we’ve learned about his reign of terror was unknown in the West at the time it was going on. This time around, there’s no question about what Putin is doing, who he is oppressing, or the fact that he has engaged in a wide array of actions aimed at undermining American national interests around the world. The fact that Trump, Pence, and others on the right insist on praising him just so they can attack an American President is disturbing not only because of what it says about their own patriotism, but also because of what it says about their respect for civil liberties, the Rule of Law, and the Bill of Rights. In the end, it all comes down to undermining and criticizing the current President of the United States The fact that it also means heaping praise upon a former Communist and KGB agent is apparently something Trump is quite comfortable with. For that reason alone, he doesn’t deserve to be President of the United States..

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FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Moosebreath says:

    The dissonance between the argument that Obama is a weaker leader than Putin and that Obama is running roughshod over the Constitution (which arguments are often within the same speech) is something to behold.

  2. CSK says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Quite so. But you have to remember that to a Trumpkin, Obama is running over the parts of the Constitution that they personally don’t like. Trumpkins love the Second Amendment, but hate the First Amendment, because, after all, the First Amendment allows the press (and commenters such as us) the freedom to say mean things about Trump.

  3. CSK says:

    And another thing you have to remember about Trump is that he’s very, very easily manipulated. He has an enormous ego, but it’s the ego of a toddler. (Not to denigrate toddlers; I find them absolutely delightful.) But a toddler’s total self-absorption, in a chronologically adult human, is a very dangerous thing, particularly if he aspires to be president.

    If Kim Jong-un told Trump he was swell, Trump would be praising Kim to the skies as a bold, forceful, forward-looking leader.

  4. Senyordave says:

    The fact that Trump, Pence, and others on the right insist on praising him just so they can attack an American President is disturbing not only because of what it says about their own patriotism, but also because of what it says about their respect for civil liberties, the Rule of Law, and the Bill of Rights.

    And in other news, water is wet.

    I think the birther movement said it all about what the national GOP has become. That you had a substantial amount of members of Congress openly embracing a lunatic fringe narrative about the POTUS, specifically used on Obama because he is the first black president, was illustrative of how little the national party cares about the country. I qualify it as the national party because there are sane Republicans, and I do have friends who are conservatives, although few of them will vote for Republicans for national office because of their behavior since Obama was elected.

  5. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Hmmm…

    Selling fear to his base

    Ignoring the improved economy of the last 7 years

    Reptilian brain focus

    Strong authoritarian

    Yep. I can see that playing well with his base. And that pouty face above, well, that’s enough to make any GOTea/Alt-Right just swoon!!!

    Maybe the Trumpster and Putin can form boy band. I bet they could get Kim Jong-un to join in… He’s a looker too!

    And since all it takes to influence Trump is “to say nice things” about him… well, that’s a done deal !

  6. Hal_10000 says:

    I know this is a tired theme … but it’s true … if Obama or Kerry had praised Putin as a better leader than Bush, the Right would have lost their damned minds. They wouldn’t just say it was bad; they’d call it treason.

    Seriously, we’re one step away from Trump saying, “You know, Hitler did some bad stuff but … ” and conservative pundits praising his insight.

  7. An Interested Party says:

    Sorta puts that whole “athletes not standing for the national anthem” thing in perspective…at least they aren’t praising foreign dictators who are hostile to our country…

  8. Slugger says:

    If Obama was a real leader, that Snowden biopic would end with the doctor saying, “Sorry, Ed, it was polonium on the tip of that umbrella.”

  9. Jack says:

    …is well-established that this is the same person who has had political enemies murdered, used the power of the state to target and ultimately silence media outlets that have been critical of her rule, repressed freedom of speech, and, of course, used military power to invade sovereign nations and steal their territory and manipulating election results in the process. When questioned about these actions, Pelosi and others on the left who continue to praise Clinton bizarrely dismiss them as if they are unimportant to an overall assessment of Clinton as a leader. Indeed, it often seems as though these people are praising Clinton in part because of the fact that she uses power to suppress those who disagree with her and get in her way.

    If you are going to write this drivel Doug, maybe, just maybe, it shouldn’t equally apply to the democrat nominee for president.

  10. rachel says:

    @Jack: Wait, you you take a quote from the original, substitute ‘Pelosi and others on the left’ for ‘Trump and others on the right’ and ‘Clinton’ for ‘Putin’, and then call the altered quote drivel? Well yes it is, but only because you changed it from fact to fiction.

  11. CB says:

    @rachel:

    This is someone who, judging by the “political enemies murdered” line, believes in Vince Foster level murder mysteries. You know, an idiot.

  12. Mikey says:

    @Jack:

    If you are going to write this drivel Doug, maybe, just maybe, it shouldn’t equally apply to the democrat nominee for president.

    You’re right, it shouldn’t, because there’s no parallel there, no equivalency, no application that can be drawn by any person actually conversant with reality.

  13. Mikey says:

    Back in 2013 I noted that many so-called cultural conservatives seemed to be oddly enamored with the Russian President due to the fact that he had begun to maneuver himself into position as some sort of protector of Christianity notwithstanding the fact that religious sects other than the Russian Orthodox Church often find themselves subject to oppression not entirely dissimilar to what they experienced during the Soviet era.

    That odd enamoring had little to do with Putin’s self-styling as a “protector of Christianity” and a lot to do with Putin’s oppression of gays.

  14. Barry says:

    Doug: “due to the fact that he had begun to maneuver himself into position as some sort of protector of Christianity notwithstanding the fact that religious sects other than the Russian Orthodox Church often find themselves subject to oppression not entirely dissimilar to what they experienced during the Soviet era. ”

    There’s a saying that the right’s only objection to Sharia law is the brand, that it’s really what they want for the USA. Same thing here. They want a right-wing dictator.

  15. Mr. Prosser says:

    “I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country.” Anyone remember that quote? Seems things haven’t change much since 2010.

  16. CSK says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Didn’t Buchanan laud Hitler in 1992? Anyway, Trump has lavished praise on Erdogan for crushing his opponents. He really does like those dictators.

    As an aside: Is it me, or does Putin look like the poster boy for acid reflux?

  17. Pch101 says:

    It’s odd how the hard right can yammer on about freedom as it actively practices sedition and praises authoritarianism, homophobia and the promotion of state religion. Surely, the irony of this should make them think twice, but apparently not.

  18. CSK says:

    @Pch101:

    Well, no, because it’s their guy who’s the seditious authoritarian homophobe. As for a state religion, I’m not sure if Trump believes in any god other than himself. But since the Trumpkins already regard him as heaven-sent, then I suppose a First United Church of Trump is always a possibility.

  19. An Interested Party says:

    But since the Trumpkins already regard him as heaven-sent, then I suppose a First United Church of Trump is always a possibility.

    That any religious person would support Trump is a bit unbelievable…how can they possibly square their faith with supporting this ridiculous amoral obscenity…

  20. Pch101 says:

    @CSK:

    My comment about state religion was referring to Putin’s relationship with the Russian Orthodox church. Church-state separation doesn’t exist in today’s Russia: the Russian Orthodox church has become part of Putin’s pro-nationalism propaganda effort, and the government is attacking other churches that don’t follow Putin’s party line.

  21. CSK says:

    @Pch101:

    I realize that. But I think the Trumpkins see Trump as a protector and promoter of Christianity, which amounts to a generalized version of the same thing. The alt-right is really not fond of Jews.

  22. Andrew says:

    As long as the dictator is someone you can like, you can be all for it? That’s really what Trump and Co. admire?

    The Russian economy is worse.
    The Russian infrastructure is worse.
    The Russian outlook on social justice is worse.
    The Russian stance on religious freedom is worse.

    But, because he is a manly man, and does not take crap from anyone, Putin is the figure to look up to?

    Says a lot does it not? That as long as the dictator is someone you would want to have a beer with…
    Man dates and crushes are obviously are more important than fundamental freedoms.

  23. Franklin says:

    Of all the possible turns in this election, I suppose I should have guessed that at some point we’d have Republicans lining up to make a whistle out of Putin’s jock.

  24. JJ says:

    @Moosebreath: Progressives use old marxist propaganda Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it

  25. Andrew says:

    @JJ:

    Kenyan usurper
    Secret Muslim
    Terrorist Sympathizer
    Not a native born citizen.
    Killed political “enemies”
    Terrorists hate freedom
    Saddam had connections to 9/11.
    There were no major attacks on US soil between 2001 and 2009.

    I am sure that all these things were not said or propagated by Progressives.
    Neo-cons? Conservatives? Yes.

    Political theories of the past, propaganda, misinformation… it is used by both sides. This is really a true “Both sides do it.”

    Trolling is fun, I admit.