Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Putin’s Bitch

No surprise here: The Former Guy is all over Putin.

“I went in yesterday and there was a television screen, and I said, ‘This is genius,’ ” Trump continued. “Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine — of Ukraine. Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful. So, Putin is now saying, ‘It’s independent,’ a large section of Ukraine. I said, ‘How smart is that?’ And he’s gonna go in and be a peacekeeper. That’s strongest peace force … We could use that on our southern border.”

He continued to praise Putin a bit later.

“Here’s a guy that says, you know, ‘I’m gonna declare a big portion of Ukraine independent’ — he used the word ‘independent’ — ‘and we’re gonna go out and we’re gonna go in and we’re gonna help keep peace,’ ” Trump said. “You gotta say that’s pretty savvy. And you know what the response was from Biden? There was no response.”

[…]

Few people better encapsulate the right’s mixture of respect for Putin’s autocratic tendencies and the perceived embarrassment of Democratic presidents that results than Donald Trump. When Putin seized Crimea in 2014, Trump declared that “Putin has eaten Obama’s lunch” and pretended to worry that President Barack Obama would do something “very foolish and very stupid to show his manhood.” This, of course, came less than a year after Trump wondered if Putin would become his “new best friend” when the Miss Universe pageant was held in Moscow.

There’s little need to articulate the extent to which Trump flirted with Putin and Russia during his 2016 campaign and his presidency. Remember when he invited Russia’s foreign minister to the Oval Office the day after he fired FBI Director James B. Comey for pressing forward on the Russia probe? Remember when he met with Putin in Helsinki and then emerged to take Putin’s side on Russia’s 2016 election interference? Remember his repeated insistences that he thought it was important to get along with Russia, by which he meant it was important to get along with Vladimir Putin — someone who was not his enemy but might still turn out to be a friend?

Remember when he said that Putin said he was brilliant, which Putin didn’t really say but which helped fuel months of Trumpian enthusiasm about how he and Putin might end up as pals? Remember, too, how Putin was just one of a contingent of authoritarians (Turkey, China, North Korea) who Trump enjoyed being around, preferring being stroked by America’s enemies to being challenged by our allies?

So, without even being asked to take sides in the power struggle between our country and Russia, Trump took sides. Putin was clever and wily, and Biden inept and toothless. There are ways to criticize Biden without explicitly praising the Russian authoritarian actively seeking to reorder democracy in Europe — see the example of every vocal Republican in the Senate — but this was not the path Trump chose to follow.

Of course he’s going to suck up to Putin and the Russian oligarchs. They’re the ones who got him into office in the first place.