Trump, praising Putin, shows his inner ghoul

February 24, 2022 • 1:45 pm

Just looking at the NYT headline below made me ill.

Now we all knew that Trump is a man without scruples, morals, or empathy, but I’m hoping that, by supporting Putin, he’s gone too far this time. Most Americans are on the side of Ukraine (after all, we still stand for democracy against dictatorshis); though, curiously, the Democrats seem more hawkish than the Republicans.  But Trump. . . . well, he’s rootin’ for Putin. And why not? Trump aspires to be like Putin.

Click to read, if you can bear it

Only hours before the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, former President Donald J. Trump again praised the cunning of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia while lashing out at the intellect of President Biden.

“I mean he’s taking over a country for $2 worth of sanctions,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Putin to donors and Republican lawmakers at Mar-a-Lago, his private club, on Wednesday. “I’d say that’s pretty smart.”

The kind words a former president gave a foreign adversary locked in a geopolitical showdown with the United States — and committing the most egregious act of aggression in Europe since World War II — would be virtually unprecedented, except that Mr. Trump himself had praised Mr. Putin only a day earlier, saying his aggression was “genius” and “very savvy.”

Most Republican leaders, though not all Republicans, have condemned Putin’s arrant action, and though some Republicans don’t care, I haven’t seen any save Trump actually praise Putin.

Later on Wednesday, after the fighting had begun and explosions could already be heard in Kyiv and around Ukraine, Mr. Trump called into Fox News, where he claimed that the crisis would not have happened if he were still in the White House.

Both in his speech and on Fox News, Mr. Trump repeated his false claim that the 2020 election was stolen.

“He was going to be satisfied with the peace,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Putin, “and now he sees the weakness and the incompetence and the stupidity of this administration.”

Now it’s not clear that Trump actually said that Putin is doing a good thing by invading Ukraine, for his praise of Putin preceded the actual invasion. But in saying that “the crisis would not have happened if he were still in the White House,” I’m pretty sure that Trump means, “Putin and I are pals and understand each other; we would have cut a deal that would have prevented the equation.” He’s not saying, “Had I been President, I would have used the U.S. military to prevent this crisis.”

One hopes that Trump has shown his ultimate rottenness here, and that even many of his supporters will be revolted by his praise of Putin during the invasion of a democratic country. But never underestimate the ability of Republicans to cling to Trump like remoras to a shark.  Most of them probably don’t even care what’s happening in Europe.

46 thoughts on “Trump, praising Putin, shows his inner ghoul

  1. Most Americans are on the side of Ukraine

    Sigh. I don’t even know if I know this. I don’t know that most of us support democracy. What I know is that war is grim and cruel and too many lives have been lost already. I’m weeping inside and even that does nothing.

    1. I really don’t think that most Americans support democracy; if anything, they just give it lip service. Look how many people spend most of their political diatribes complaining whenever [the other side] is democratically elected to power – or that [the other side] has too much power when in opposition; (IMO) Americans (and probably humans in general) support being on the winning side more than they support democratic ideals.

      Having lived under several relatively democratic systems and some extreme undemocratic ones, I can say that many nominally democratic systems are rapidly approaching illiberal ochlocracy, mob rule. Personally, I prefer rulers (democratic or otherwise) whose primary goal is to minimize governance, people who leave other people alone. I don’t see that from Russia, but I also don’t see that from Ukraine, or … well, most of 200 other sovereign governments.

      I agree about ‘weeping on the inside’, but I think I have burned through most of my hope for humanity. No matter who wins the current military conflict, I hope that people living in Ukraine – and everywhere else on this planet – maximize their freedom and minimize their suffering. I can’t see a pleasant short-term path through this. This too shall pass.

  2. Autocrats protect one another.I really worry this ghoul is going to be the POTUS again. It seems impossible to get things to stick to him even though he commits crimes in plain sight. I predict Fox News to start broadcasting Russian propaganda 24X7 shortly that rivals that of RT.

  3. I’d go one step further and say the majority of Americans (Democrats and Republicans) have no idea where Ukraine sits on a map or know any of its history. It’s also worth nothing the historical/religious aspects of this action.

    And I think one of the reasons some (I won’t say all) Republicans are wont of criticizing Putin is because of his repeated condemnation of the West for abandoning Christian principles. A good Christian, he is. Just ask him, and he’ll tell you. For that matter, so will Trump.

    Finally, Trump all along said NATO/Europe should fight their own battles and not to look to the US for their security. To now claim this wouldn’t have happened under his orange watch is, at best, delusional.

    1. A good Christian, he is. Just ask him, and he’ll tell you.

      Christianity was arguably the first major world religion where belief was more important than deeds. Now for Faux Christians like Putin, Trump, Orban… the proclamation of belief is what’s important. You don’t even have to pretend to live according to the commandments, sermons, etc.

    1. I think the Kompromat is entirely about money laundering Russian gangsters buying Trump properties. Trump was friendly with the crime family who run Azerbaijan also. Sleaze attracts sleaze.
      I doubt there’s any “juicy” Kompromat. The pee tape bs was just that I think.
      D.A.
      NYC

  4. Sometimes those with the sharp tongue get their throat cut. Trump should save his oxygen for the testimony he will be giving soon. Saying you take the 5th amendment 500 times takes a lot of oxygen.

  5. Trump has always been more interested in the game than in the rules. As a gambler he admires the bold player, but has never had the ability to see whether a thing was right or not, except for a base judgement of whether it would likely be to his benefit. Right now he considers Biden more his opponent than Putin.

    1. That is a very nonjudgemental appraisal of a pathogenically selfish, extremely dishonest, un-American ex-president.

    2. “Right now he considers Biden more his opponent than Putin.”

      No shit, Sherlock. He doesn’t even consider Putin his opponent. He admires Putin, he loves to be Putin’s lapdog, he is envious of the autocratic power Putin wields. Has he ever said a sincere negative word against Putin? No, he hasn’t. Putin didn’t kick him out of office, either; Americans who voted for Biden did. So of course he sees Biden as an opponent.

  6. I’m reminded of the image of the two Trump fans with the t-shirts that say “I’d rather be Russian than Democrat”.

  7. Would love to think this sort of position would end his political chances, but he thrived after saying more crazy things.

    Trump’s position doesn’t surprise me as much as watching the GOP follow him on it. Pretty crazy to think the US conservatives have turned 180 degrees from Reagan’s anti-Soviet rhetoric to Trump’s pro-Russian stance. US Republicans love communist/kleptocratic authoritarians taking over European democracies at the point of the gun? Make me that bet 10 years ago, I lose a lot of money on it.

  8. “Now we all knew that Trump is a man without scruples, morals, or empathy, but I’m hoping that, by supporting Putin, he’s gone too far this time.”

    I thought the same things at regular intervals over the past 5 years, until I learned he really knew what he was talking about when he said he could shoot someone on Fifth avenue and not lose followers. Hope springs eternal, doesn’t it?

    1. The scales fell from my eyes when, early in his campaign for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, Trump said that former POW John McCain wasn’t a war hero because “I like people who weren’t captured,” yet lost not a bit of Republican support.

      That’s when I realized we were dealing with a whole new creature from the black lagoon the GOP had made of itself.

      1. On Penn Jillette’s last appearance on The Apprentice, Trump decided he’d run for president, and asked for Penn’s endorsement; Penn declined. So Trump declared the other team the winners.

        Show sponsors, horrified by Trump’s behavior, donated far more to Penn’s charity than he would have made for the it by “winning.”

        So yes, Trump is that petty and vindictive, and never cared who knew it.

  9. A reminder that Trumpism, like Wokeism, is a religion, with Trump the central figure as the Chosen One of God and so, by definition, worshipful and infallible.

  10. Since his entry into US presidential politics, Donald Trump has unceasingly demonstrated utter contempt for the norms and traditions that have long prevailed in American governmental affairs. It should come as no surprise that this contempt extends to the tradition that, in the words of Republican US senator Arthur Vandenberg, “politics stops at the water’s edge.”

  11. I’ve been trying to read as much as I can about this situation.

    What stuns me is that the overclass/ commentariat seem not to have take a single lesson about from the catastrophes Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, they are being scrubbed from history and memory even as many in Afghanistan are on the brink of hunger and starvation.

    I am glad Trump is his age and not 35.

    1. But don’t you realize that the date of Trump’s birth was rigged by the Democrats? It is all laid out in the missing Hilary E-mails, along with plans for the Pizzagate human trafficking ring.

  12. That’s a truncation of Trump’s remarks. He said that Putin’s approach was politically savvy (which it is), and then concluded by saying that it was very sad and never would have happened if he were still in the Whitehouse.

    1. “(which it is)”

      Aren’t we a little too premature to make that judgement? And Trump thinking he knows the mind of Putin is utterly laughable- and he’s assuming here that Putin respects him…even more laughable.

      1. The NYT article was written by a person who has more or less made a career of hating Trump. I read the interview transcript before I heard the story reframed. I did not get the impression at all that Trump approved of Putin’s actions. “Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine … Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful.” was an ironic remark.

        Trump’s coarse stream of consciousness style of speaking lends itself to readily to picking sentences out of large dialogs and reframing them as what they are not.

        I am not sure that I agree with Trump’s belief that this would not have happened on his watch. He may well have made it much worse. Of course, we don’t yet know how bad it is going to get.

    2. What’s so savvy about Putin’s approach? It’s simply dissimulation plus the raw power afforded an autocrat who never has to submit to a popular referendum or an honest national vote.

      And what are the specifics on why this “never would have happened if he were still in the Whitehouse [sic]” — that Trump would have dissolved NATO, thus fulfilling Putin’s wet dream of reconstituting the Russian Empire, including by picking off the nations of Eastern Europe one at a time?

      1. I’m Estonian, you don’t have to explain anything to me. I’m not defending Trump, other than pointing out that the accusation that he was “praising Putin” was wrong because the quote is truncated. (Although, I’d note that Crimea was in 2014, before Trump, and Trump is not in power now. To pretend that Putin and Trump are somehow in league doesn’t match the facts on the ground.)

        The build up to yesterday was savvy, and only happened because the West is weak, spending more time worrying about transexuals in our militaries than capability to fight an enemy. We’ve spent decades disparaging ourselves because we have made the perfect the enemy of the good. As someone who doesn’t live in the US, I definitely appreciate that the United States is seriously flawed, but there is absolutely no question I’d rather have you being the world super power rather than China, or even the multiple power world prior to WW1.

        This wouldn’t have happened if Europe, particularly Germany, hadn’t shut down their nuclear plants and were then forced to rely on Russian natural gas, while relying on the US to cover them in NATO. They now have zero leverage to hold Russia in check. Biden made the situation worse by turning the US back into a net importer of oil, which means you’re also exposed to world oil prices, because your population won’t tolerate high oil prices for prolonged periods.

        The mess Biden made of withdrawing from Afghanistan is another factor here. There’s not going to be any military actions against Russia as a result. So, the only checks on Russia have been removed in the past year, so Putin would be foolish not to act now. He laid this all out in his speech the other day.

        That said, I doubt Russia has much appetite to move on a NATO country at this point. What I’m more worried about is Taiwan. China is definitely watching this with interest, and this is probably their best chance to act with little chance of triggering a world war as no one will come to Taiwan’s defence either.

        1. Agree Putin is not going to move against any NATO territory. And if the US had forward-deployed the 82nd Airborne into Ukraine 3 weeks ago (which is just something that Trump might have done…maybe) Putin wouldn’t have moved against Ukraine either.

        2. Thank you for that.

          Estonia is one of a handful of NATO countries that pulls its weight in the alliance, meeting the 2% of GDP pledge for defense spending that most other countries regard as aspirational. They always have some oh-so-convincing reason, mumbling about social justice, why they can’t quite do it this decade, maybe sometime in the 2030s. (The United States is another that exceeds the 2% figure but it of course has world-wide commitments including to keep the sea lanes open for commerce.)

          So when Estonia talks, people should listen up.

        3. If you recall GoP brain box, the intellectually impaired Newt Gingers, a terrible person, called your country “a suburb of St. Petersburg” while poo-poo-ing NATO a few years ago.
          He and exceedingly stupid Paul Ryan were the touted as “intellectual wing” of the GoP. They are. 🙂

          I’ve always been fascinated by Estonian and Finnish.
          D.A.
          NYC

  13. Worth keeping in mind that the first Trump impeachment was on the subject of attempting to extort Ukraine over defense appropriations. This is a long running story

  14. Jerry, I really appreciate your daily commentaries, and thought that, unlike Sam Harris, you had not fallen prey to TDS. But this is disappointing! Trump may be the most evil person ever to live, but here he was clearly referring to Putin’s genius ability to recognize and use American weakness under Biden. You may disagree with his opinion but nothing ghoulish about it. As to Ukraine being a democracy, and speaking of coups, please research EuroMaidan. And while you’re at it, please check out the Azov Battalion, and the Obama administration’s military support for this explicitly Neo-Nazi group. Also, Hunter Biden’s deep financial ties with the kleptocracy that rules that country.

    1. I don’t know, Arslan, I think Sam Harris’ views on Trump are pretty finely calibrated and spot on.

      I’ve known about those Azov goons for years now. They’re either real fascists (Ukraine’s Proud Boys) but that narrative seems to come entirely from Russia. I’m undecided.

      I wrote an article some years ago about R(ussian) TV, a hilariously ham fisted propaganda network. It appeared in TheModerateVoice, Democracy Chronicles.org and a few other places. RT is HORRIBLE but one of the most watched foreign TV networks in the US (after BBC and Al Jaz.) online. Which is scary. My article:
      https://themoderatevoice.com/russia-without-love-rt/
      I wrote it under “Andersen”, not my real name “Anderson” as I’d like a visa to Russia one day as I’ve studied Russian language for many years.
      D.A.
      NYC

    2. What is objectionable about Trump is his seeing everything as a real estate deal he would have made a killing on. That, and his unwavering faith that everything— even a war where thousands may be killed— is still about him and his great ‘leadership.’

  15. – – Jerry, I really appreciate your daily commentaries, and thought that, unlike Sam Harris, you had not fallen prey to TDS. – –

    Sorry, but I find I can not take anyone seriously who uses the facile term TDS in response to the very valid concerns any reasonable person would have about Trump and his influence. That’s twitter-troll garbage IMO.

    It’s almost as bad as whipping out the term “racist” for views you don’t like.

  16. I’m glad you mentioned George Harrison – such a great guy I can even forgive his religious leanings.
    Meher Baba was a big deal in the 60s, apparently: Melanie (of Woodstock and later fame) Safka wrote a song about him.

    There’s a special attraction eastern woo has over many in the west. That kind of nonsense in Christian/Jewish form gets short shrift but it is amazing for your marketing what an Indian (or Japanese) accent, some hip clothes etc can do for sales. It builds on the “mystery of the Orient” tropes.
    In the same way but in reverse, in Japan there’s an inherent coolness to lots of western culture, regardless of quality. The “other” is always sexier no matter where you are.
    D.A.
    NYC

  17. Trump showed his utter indifference to other lives except his own right at the start.

    He pulled, or threatened to pull, US out of medical health programs if they were providing contraceptives and related advice. That risked the lives of an estimated 1 million females across the world.

    Trump is not worth anything – certainly not our time.

  18. Once again, his words were taken out of context. True, I might have chosen other words than “smart” to describe Putin. Shrewd, power hungry, megalomaniac, but still no doubt savvy. I believe those comments were in response to recent news articles that were attempting to question his mental health in order to villify him. The thing that’s important to remember is just because someone does bad things or makes bad choices to harm themselves or others does not mean it is a mental health issue. And consider that fact that it would be difficult to achieve ANY position of that kind of power without being smart and savvy, although some, like Joe Biden, can get senile in office. While Putin’s mental health status is almost a moot point for us, since there’s not much we can do about it other than engaging in a a full fledged war, If anyone’s competence should be questioned right now, it should be Biden’s, as the fate of the free world is now hanging in the balance.

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