The Donald started the courtship first, by extending an olive branch and saying that he would “work with” Putin and “get along” with him. Then Vlad the Invader upped the ante, stating that Trump was “a bright and talented person without any doubt” and is “an outstanding and talented personality.” Those Putin plaudits almost made Trumpelstiltskin go squeeee! He responded by saying: “It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.” You almost expected Trump’s reaction to be followed by a little hand-drawn heart and a smiley face emoticon.
The Trump balloon and the leaden Clinton and Bush retread campaigns have made this a weird political year, but Vladimir Putin injecting himself into U.S. presidential politics, and a candidate responding positively to it, just makes the year even weirder. I’m not sure who “highly respects” Putin — other than Trump, apparently — but it is surely not anyone who knows much about Putin’s record of duplicitousness, invasion, power plays, and support of murderous dictators like Assad on the international front, and his vile and appalling treatment of opponents, journalists, and gays in mother Russia.
I’ve got nothing against trying to “get along” with the leaders of other countries, or at least finding common ground on issues where our interests are aligned. But Trump’s blushing reaction to Putin’s throwaway compliments is as naive as the Obama Administration’s embarrassing notion that relations with Russia could be changed simply by pushing a “reset” button. Anyone who actually thought that, as President, Trump would be a tough guy should be under no illusions after the Putin-Trump lovefest. Trump, like any narcissist, is a pretty easy target — shower him with praise, and he’ll follow you anywhere. Does anyone really think that the Trumpster would stand up to Putin’s adventurism any more than the Obama Administration has after Putin threw a few more kudos his way?
Somewhere, Vlad the Invader is having a pretty good chuckle right about now.