As a history major in college with an emphasis on Russian history - I even had the late Anna Anderson as a neighbor in Charlottesville for two years - I have never feared or disliked the Russian people. Their leaders for close to the last 99 years, however, are another matter and the nation's current dictator, Vladimir Putin, a former KGB operative, is in many ways just as frightening as Josef Stalin who murdered millions of his own people. Add to this the fact that other than during the interlude of World War II, Russia has not been an ally of America since the fall of Nicholas II and then the Provisional Government. Instead, Russia - because of its leaders - has been a consistent devious and manipulating enemy of America and American interests. Yet, we know see Donald Trump praising Putin, a man who has allowed cronies to financially rape Russia and who is believed to have had political opponents murdered and rigged election. Worse yet, Trump has suggested that America might ignore or revoke treaties with European allies and others. Frighteningly, many in the GOP base seem utterly fine with this insanity and ignore the fact that Trump may see Putin's leadership methods what he'd like to adopt if Americans are insane enough to put him in the White House. A piece in Salon looks at this bizarre situation. Here are excerpts:
After a room full of military veterans during NBC News’ “Commander-in-Chief Forum” that their current commander in chief is a weaker leader than Russian President Vladmir Putin ( the dictator’s high approval rating), Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appeared on the Kremlin-funded news outlet Russia Today. There he defended the former KGB officer from allegations of hacking into the Democratic National Committee — and now many of his most prominent campaign surrogates are following suit.
“I think it’s probably unlikely,” Trump RT America’s Larry King on Thursday, suggesting that “maybe the Democrats are putting that out. Who knows?” Putin has called the hacking of Democratic officials’ email accounts a but has denied Russian involvement.
In July, Trump had said, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”
And while Trump has certainly made no secret of his admiration for the Russian strongman — “He’s been a leader far more than our president has been a leader,” he moderator Matt Lauer on Wednesday — he’s managed to add some of the Republican Party’s most conservative voices to the baffling praise of Putin.
“I think it’s inarguable that Vladimir Putin has been a stronger leader in his country than Barack Obama has been in this country,” Indiana Gov. Mike Pence , echoing his running mate on Thursday.
Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski also repeated the seemingly Kremlin-assigned talking points: “I think that for his people, Vladmir Putin has been a fighter”
Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa argued that the Russian leader was a far superior leader to the American president, citing the nationalism incited by the Sochi Olympics.
Of course, Putin extinguished Russia’s nascent democracy, persecuted and murdered Russians and embarked on needless wars to assert dominance in the region, but conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt still argued he has “served his country’s national interest better” than President Obama.
To be certain, Trump’s overt praise of the Russian strongman is hardly a new tone for modern conservatives, who have for years Putin in an effort to attack President Obama.