Donald Trump recently told Larry King (on Russian television no less) that Vladimir Putin “has done a great job with Russia’s image,” and yes, I suppose if your idea of “great” is a an eight percent approval rating amongst Americans, then Putin is doing great. Trump infamously said that he prefers Putin’s style of leadership to that of President Obama, citing Vlad I-wish-I-was-the Impaler’s 82 percent approval rating as the reason for his admiration, and saying Putin “has very strong control over the country.”
Why yes, when you kill political opponents, jail those in power who dare to question you and simply murder any journalist who attempts to exercise freedom of the press—I suppose it could indeed be said you have very strong control over your country. President Obama can’t simply murder Sean Hannity for disagreeing with him, or that blowhard would have been dead within an hour of Barry taking oath.
According to international watchdog Freedom House, freedom of the press is so non-existent in Russia that the country ranks below such bastions of free thought as Iraq and Sudan, finishing an deplorable 180th out of 199 countries. Even more troubling is the nose dive Russian’s press freedom score and rankings have taken since Putin took power.
Since Putin’s chokehold on both Russia and its press began in 2000, at least >34 Russian journalists have been killed, To put that in context, in the same timeframe two were killed in all of China and a mere three were killed in the United States—with two of those coming during an on-air shooting last year in Virginia.
Consider those facts in light of both Trump’s admiration for Putin and the Donald’s expressed interest in “opening up” America’s libel laws making it easier to “have people sue you (the press) like you’ve never got sued before.” One would think this would make it quite costly to consider ever defaming Grand Imperial King Of America Trump—is it that hard to imagine a world in which Trump takes control of all privately owned news stations as his homey Vlad has? After he “opens up” the libel laws it would be very easy to sue any and all opposition into oblivion if you have the unlimited resources of the American government behind you.
As Russian-born chess champion Garry Kasporov recently put it, “Putin is a strong leader in the way arsenic is a strong drink”—a fitting analogy given Putin’s penchant for poisoning his opposition.
In his lustful search for more power, Putin has mortgaged Russia’s future with his intervention in Ukraine, as any hope of integrating the Russian economy with the West has largely been forsaken via his actions. Given Russia’s utter dependance on oil, as soon as oil prices dropped, Russia’s economy tanked. Perhaps with Trump’s many bankruptcies and shady business dealings, he admires Putin’s bullheadedness in the face of economic failure.
In the post-truth world in which the Trump campaign exists, you’re not wrong if you never admit to being wrong—you just start shouting louder. If Trump were elected president, is it really a stretch to imagine his presidency turning into the kind of authoritarian nightmare of a regime Putin has murdered to create and to keep in place?
In the past decade, Putin has invaded two neighboring countries, Georgia and Ukraine, and annexed Crimea, a move that marked the first major land grab in Europe since World War II (but hey, that turned out to be pretty fun). Is it that difficult to imagine Grand Imperial King Of America Trump simply deciding to take over part of Mexico in order to better “police” it? Or to invade Cuba illegally—most likely because it’s a wonderful location for his next series of gaudy resorts?
Unsurprisingly, many with intelligence and military experience are—yet again—appalled by Trump’s actions and dangerous praise of such a man. Former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell and former undersecretary of Defense for intelligence Mike Vickers wrote a letter to the Washington Post deriding the two’s cosy relationship. Paul Ryan seems to be growing ever closer to spontaneously combusting every time Trump praises a man who in all likelihood was behind a recent large-scale cyber attack on our government (and honestly, at this point Ryan is probably praying that sweet relief in the form of spontaneous combustion comes someday charitably soon).
Lindsay Graham—who is probably as surprised as anyone that he has become a voice of reason in this most horrifying of presidential elections—was even more exasperated than Ryan with Trump’s continued political crush, saying of Putin, “Other than destroying every instrument of democracy in his own country, having opposition people killed, dismembering neighbors through military force and being the benefactor of the butcher of Damascus, he’s a good guy.”
Lindsay Graham ladies and gentleman: standup comedian extraordinaire.
It’s so clear that Putin is licking his chops and salivating when thinking of the games he could play with Trump that his “admiration” of the Donald recalls that of the cool teens in a high school horror movie trying to manipulate the hopeful rube of their class into thinking he can hang out with them. Think of The Donald as Carrie… which unfortunately would make the world that gym she burned everyone up in.
Of all of Trump’s troublingly dangerous statements, his open and ongoing appreciation of Vladimir Putin’s regime is his most misguided and alarming—and that’s saying something. A man who openly praises a murderous tyrant who is clearly an enemy of the state has no place in the White House. Period. I wouldn’t even let him on the lawn.