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Friday, March 22, 2019

A good title for the entire Trump-Putin saga might be “The Naïve and Sentimental Dictator.” Assuming, that is, that it all plays out as farce—certainly the direction events are trending in the White House.

What did Vladimir Putin think he was getting? Is it possible that he mistook an egotistical buffoon like Donald J. Trump for an apprentice strongman? If so, he badly misunderstands America. It’s not simply Russia with better plumbing. Granted, Trump himself lacks the self-discipline for autocracy. But he also lacks the servile population.

Putin is known to regard western ideals of liberty, freedom and democracy as sentimental illusions. Trump disdains all laws that impede him. But if Congress accomplished nothing else by imposing new sanctions against Russian meddling in our politics, it proved that Putin’s best American friend has become the weakest president in living memory.

Not that Trump can’t still do enormous damage. But sentimental illusion or not, he won’t be able to undo the Constitution.

For all his bluster, Trump’s increasingly becoming a figure of fun—almost as laughable as his comic opera mini-me, The Mooch. His falsehoods expire overnight, often due to his own foolish tweets.

Nobody fears Trump, not really. See, he can’t have me thrown into prison for mocking him. Also unlike Putin, he can’t have Senator Jeff Flake, the Arizona Republican, shot dead in the street for denouncing his own party’s “Faustian bargain” with Trump.

“Silence in the face of an erratic executive branch is an abdication,” Flake writes in Politico, “and those in positions of leadership bear particular responsibility.”

Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan: he’s talking to you.

OK, so that makes a total of four Republican senators with spines. A few others have also made noises. Ultimately, this country isn’t going to be run like a World Wrestling Entertainment spectacle.

But back to Vladimir Putin. No, we definitely don’t need another Cold War with the Russians. Never did. But it’s the Russian dictator that badly overplayed his hand—possibly why his diplomats are already hinting that mutual accommodation might still be possible.

Meanwhile, Trump might like to undo the sanctions, but he hasn’t got the power. He’d also like to rid himself of Robert Mueller, the investigator systematically probing exactly what Putin’s got on him. However, Trump can’t make that happen.

Another Republican Senator with at least a vestigial backbone: South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham: “Any effort to go after Mueller could be the beginning of the end of the Trump Presidency unless Mueller did something wrong.”

One theory is that Putin never really imagined that his efforts would bring about a Trump presidency—that his real motive was sowing confusion and Russian-style cynicism about democracy itself. Certainly, Russian operatives’ approach to the amateurish schemers in Trump Tower last June was like something out of a Donald Westlake comic crime caper.

(My favorite Westlake novel is Bank Shot, in which crooks haul off a temporary bank housed in a mobile home, realizing too late that cops have blockaded every bridge off Long Island. Oh, it’s an island? Who knew?)

Writing in the New York Times, former CIA chief of station Daniel Hoffmann argues that what looks like incompetent Russian tradecraft indicates a baited mousetrap Donald Trump, Jr. clumsily jumped into. An email from an intermediary vowing Russian government support for the Trump candidacy and promising to deliver dirt on Hillary Clinton?

An email? Permanent, ineradicable evidence?

So naturally Trump, Jr. copied and forwarded the incriminating message with the helpful subject line “Russian—Clinton—private and confidential.”

An email?

Not the sharpest tool in the shed, Junior.

Has anybody ever not read a message so marked? Except we’re expected to believe that boy genius son-in-law Jared Kushner never did, although he attended the meeting with those Russian operatives anyway. A big bust, he claims, a real nothing-burger.

Although two days later, candidate Trump promised a blockbuster speech detailing Hillary Clinton’s many crimes—a speech he never did deliver.

So now the Washington Post reports that the president himself drafted a deceptive statement after word of the suspect meeting first materialized in the press. The meeting was about Russian orphans, see, not Clinton dirt.

Followed, as day follows night, by the appearance of the aforementioned “private and confidential” emails.

So which is more incompetent, Team Vladimir or Team Trump?

The CIA’s Hoffman thinks he knows: “to me, the clearest evidence that this was a Russian influence operation is the trail of bread crumbs the Kremlin seemed to have deliberately left leading from Trump Tower to the Kremlin. This operation was meant to be discovered.”

But why? The commonest use of kompromat, as the Russians call incriminating evidence, is blackmail.

Too late now. Russians commonly say that Putin’s a cunning plotter, but a strategic dope. If he wanted Trump in his pocket, looks like he’s got him.

But the end result is chaos.

Header image: Wikimedia Commons.

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30 responses to “Why Trump Could Never Be A Putinesque Strongman”

  1. The last line regarding Putin as a cunning plotter but lacking strategic foresight accurately sums up Putin’s gross and childish approach to meddling in American affairs. One thing Putin shares with Trump is an aversion to think deeply—Putin reacts to immediate events, and takes a one dimensional way of thinking. Both use the thuggish, bully approach to problem-solving. Consultation and seeking consensus are foreign concepts to Trump and Putin—as well to many in the GOP. Both have media flunkies, such as Pravda and FOX.

    Putin has thus far shown a woeful lack of knowledge about how American Government works. And he has been around in politics in Russia for how long? Despite the labyrinth of byzantine ways which Congress works, there are checks, and somewhat of conscience in the membership in Congress, unlike the absence of such in the Politburo. Putin expects other nations to lack scruples to the same degree as he and his oligarchs; he expects all Americans to be mindless robots, just like a vast majority of Russians have been conditioned to be for centuries now. And Putin thinks bullying is the way to solve problems, just as Trump does.

    The similarities between Trump and Putin are extensive and troubling to say the least. Might no longer makes Right—-Putin and Trump still are locked in the Dark Ages on this fact.

  2. Aaron_of_Portsmouth says:

    The last line regarding Putin as a cunning plotter but lacking strategic foresight accurately sums up Putin’s gross and childish approach to meddling in American affairs. One thing Putin shares with Trump is an aversion to think deeply—Putin reacts to immediate events, and takes a one dimensional way of thinking. Both use the thuggish, bully approach to problem-solving. Consultation and seeking consensus are foreign concepts to Trump and Putin—as well to many in the GOP. Both have media flunkies, such as Pravda and FOX.

    Putin has thus far shown a woeful lack of knowledge about how American Government works. And he has been around in politics in Russia for how long? Despite the labyrinth of byzantine ways which Congress works, there are checks, and somewhat of conscience in the membership in Congress, unlike the absence of such in the Politburo. Putin expects other nations to lack scruples to the same degree as he and his oligarchs; he expects all Americans to be mindless robots, just like a vast majority of Russians have been conditioned to be for centuries now. And Putin thinks bullying is the way to solve problems, just as Trump does.

    The similarities between Trump and Putin are extensive and troubling to say the least. Might no longer makes Right—-Putin and Trump still are locked in the Dark Ages on this fact.

  3. Eleanore Whitaker says:

    Since 6th grade, Russia has always fascinated me. From the standpoint of the “2” Russias so often identified by novelists like Pasternak, Chekov and Solzhenitzen in their literary works, there is peasant Russia and Moscovite Russia.

    It isn’t the specific plot or characters in their writing that points out “who” and “what” Russia is. It’s the picture of their mentalities and lifestyles that create the best and most truthful presentation of Russian and Russians.

    From its earliest history, Russia has been at war. Mostly, internally and when those wars proved failures, externally. To know and understand the actual drive of Russians is to recognize the the “2” Russias…The Moscovite Russia where urbanization is filtered through fear and retribution and the Peasant Russia that is pure militancy when threatened or attempts to sever what little possession they actually can own: their freedoms, mental and physical.

    Trump is owned by Putin. That is now undeniable. So is Tillerson. Both of these men have sold their souls not to Russia, but to Putin. In Moscovite Russia, the rule of law is under the control of ONE, not all. There isn’t a single member of the Kremlin today who doesn’t fear Putin’s strategies of swift and autonomous control.

    But, isn’t that the same thing Republicans have sought for generations? McConnell with all that swaggering and drawling in the Senate prove that when he so brazenly defied rules of Senate laws by pretending the Democratic Party just doesn’t exist.

    Isn’t that the same thing Ryan as Speaker of the House has done? Use Majority rule with one FACE as the operative for autonomous control?

    Putin puts his pants on like we all do. Trump can’t put his own on without help. That is why Trump could never be a Putin strongman. Sadly, power mad men always end up the same way. How will it end with Trump?

    Well, when you have a KGB gorilla on your back who is now very “unhappy” with the sanctions placed on Russia for meddling in our government and you have a Secretary of State who is also beholden to Putin who says, those sanctions “will anger” Russia, at what point in Republican History do these morons admit that if we must fear Russian anger, we are now Russian owned, lock, stock and barrel.

    • dbtheonly says:

      Not as sanguine as some about “It Can’t Happen Here”. I agree with you that it all too well might. I don’t see Republicans with backbones, vestigial or otherwis.

      Sad to say, our main line of defense is Trump’s incompetence. He resembles Curly Howard’s play on Mussolini.

      • Eleanore Whitaker says:

        I so agree. I have nightmares that the more the Russian hackers push out their propaganda and try to sabotage competent US media, the only media left will be theirs.

        Trump will fail because Trump always does. He loves to make like he is just the most most biglyest most most intelligent when every action he takes is impulsive and never well thought out. That in itself is a huge danger to millions of Americans.

        I have every faith and confidence that Trump’s inability to shut his mouth and stop acting as if president means King, he will fail yet again. This time, it won’t be anything he can pay his way out of.

        I agree about him acting like Mussolini. My father was born in Italy and hated Mussolini. Dad used to do a really funny Mussolini strut and pout.

    • Alain Vercammen-Grandjean says:

      Best thing that ever happened to you Lenny!
      You might even become educated too.
      Right now. Your ignorance is unfathomable.

      • Eleanore Whitaker says:

        So in your shitbagger world, Russians hacking and meddling into our government is fine and dandy you coward frig?

        What if the hacking had NEVER been discovered? What if Sally Yates had NOT bothered to warn Trump about Flynn? What if President Obama had never warned Lard Ass to keep his distance with Flynn?

        Sorry pallie. When Belgium is under Russian control, then put your pathetic two cents in.

        Trump was found guilty of money laundering at his Taj Mahal Casino. He got a fine. If he is found guilty a 2nd time, no fine. Just jail time.

        • Alain Vercammen-Grandjean says:

          Nobody ever put the Belgian people (who were often “occupied”) under any foreign rule or control.

          The Spanish, English, French, Dutch, Austrians and especially the Germans have tried and after that the Americans who want to control the whole world and cannot stand anyone standing up against their vulgar brutal lowbrow might you so delicately represent and express here as usual my dear.

          Russia will not “rule” Europe but the war mongering support of MIC and silly propaganda has distilled this for years in your shallow feeble minds. Reformat and reboot.

          Keep passing the the buck on Russia, your chosen enemy without whom MIC would go bankrupt and keep feeding these War lards indeed….
          And enjoy your paranoïa to the hilt.
          You definitely are in a mess. Take care.

          • Eleanore Whitaker says:

            Really asshat? From our US history books, ” The German occupation of Belgium (French: Occupation allemande, Dutch: Duitse bezetting) during World War II began on 28 May 1940 when the Belgian army surrendered to German forces and lasted until Belgium’s liberation by the Western Allies between September 1944 and February 1945. It was the second time that Germany had occupied Belgium in under thirty years.”

            So you Belgian waffles are liars too? What on earth makes you morons of the right with those big gaping maws think we won’t take you down with truth and facts you can’t stand.

            You are so low on the totem that now since you can’t play your Hitler games like you traitors did in WW2, now you think you will do the same in the US? Big surprise, dirt bag. No you won’t. Not unless you’d like a taste of Yankee ingenuity that beats you Belgian waffles to pulps.

          • Alain Vercammen-Grandjean says:

            Always so delicate in your propos milady of the 4th Reich nobody will stop ever!
            You will win, you will win make no mistake!

            Come to Belgium with your twenty aircraft carriers, a few MOABs and nukes for the first round to beat and crush us to pulp.
            11 million people with free healthcare and life benefit for all is something you definitely want to get rid of. Too much to the left!

            But don’t forget that every nation that has invaded it, Belgium with the help of their Tijl Uilenspiegels, made them lose their war.
            Yes the GI’s finished the job after the Russians.
            Which industrialists and bankers pushed Europe into WW II?
            Remember?
            So queen of the neurotic, quixotic Torquemada’s, wanna try? Shoot first. Show your knowledge.

          • Eleanore Whitaker says:

            More’s the pity your old man spent 3 minutes pleasuring himself to carry on his pathetic family name and your Mommy had to endure 3 minutes just to feel like a woman and spawn you.

            I posted facts. Men like you are bred on Daddy’s lies. Time for you to grow some nuts.

          • Alain Vercammen-Grandjean says:

            You post curses . You don’t know what a fact is.

          • Eleanore Whitaker says:

            Here is what I posted moron: FACT: The German occupation of Belgium (French: Occupation allemande, Dutch: Duitse bezetting) during World War II began on 28 May 1940 when the Belgian army surrendered to German forces and lasted until Belgium’s liberation by the Western Allies between September 1944 and February 1945. It was the second time that Germany had occupied Belgium in under thirty years.”

            Get over it. You want the last word? You don’t get it with me. I don’t ever allow a liar and deceptive Belgian creep to try and implant BS into our US social media.

            Curse? When you men are the ones who create the curses?

          • Alain Vercammen-Grandjean says:

            Sure.
            Roger over and out!

          • Alain, Roger and out your sorry behind to a mental hospital. Being an ass is unbecoming a 69 year old man who by now should have outgrown puberty and a puerile attitude.
            But, like Trump, you’ll just keep on being an impotent little man, forever smearing the good name of your mother, besmirching her memory, and mooning like an ass at the full moon.

          • Alain Vercammen-Grandjean says:

            You talking to me? Well don’t.
            I’ve heard your bigot gibberish about my mother 100 times.
            Take your pills and go to bed.
            Hitler would have loved you as he loved Henri Ford and the thousands of Americans industrialists who promoted him to push Europe into chaos. Business is business. War one is Best!
            But you don’t really want to know that do you?
            So you bug my mother, leech Aaron. Get lost you are useless.

          • Alain, is this the only way you derive carnal pleasure by indulging in this morbid form of self-gratification, by posting garbage?? Is this what your mother inspired you to do with your sorry life??

          • Alain Vercammen-Grandjean says:

            You like FACTS. Here they are.
            http://www.rationalrevolution.net/war/american_supporters_of_the_europ.htm
            That was the aim of the operation.
            Push Europe into war WWII, come and help it out after the Russians with heavy losses had totally weakened Hitler, take all the glory, sign a juicy 60 years Marshall plan. Divide Europe to rule it.

            Attack the weak. Easy as pie proud lady…
            Keep shooting your hate. It works. You win.

  4. Dominick Vila says:

    Because our system of government will not allow him to become one. Even the fact that many GOP members of Congress have put their personal interests ahead of country, will not be enough for Trump to become a pseudo dictator. There are enough members of Congress that will expose and oppose manifestations of totalitarianism, and the majority of the American people will not tolerate it. Considering Trump’s behavior and statements since his inauguration, I would not be surprised if the most ignorant President in U.S. history actually thought he would have unlimited and unchallenged powers. I believe that even him, a very slow learner, knows by now that he cannot do whatever he wants, and that the job entails a lot more than ceremonial acts, while his courtiers do the dirty work.

    • Dapper Dan says:

      Oh boo ???? Being President is no longer fun for Trump having to reside in that real ugly Dump at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. He can’t have his way with that pesky Congress and something about the US Constitution. With a new poll showing him with only a 33 percent approval rating and 61 percent disapproval rating its time to hit the road

      • Dominick Vila says:

        That’s why he is heading for the hills in West Virginia hoping coal miners will cheer him up. Away from the WH “dump”, and the drug infested New Hampshire. The worst part of the latter is that Trump made that comment while talking to the leader of another country. This guy is an embarrassment.

        • Dapper Dan says:

          And now Mueller has just empaneled a Grand Jury into the Russia probe. This Presidency is imploding not Obamacare

    • dpaano says:

      And his “courtiers” get the blame when the dirty work doesn’t come out as planned! Trump will NEVER take the blame and always finds someone else to be the scapegoat!

  5. FT66 says:

    Some have been thinking Putin is a smart guy. No he is not. He has proved to be the most ignorant person of how the America governing system works. I hope he has so far learned a big lesson and never again to put his nose where it doesn’t belong.

  6. A. Jamie Saris says:

    I wouldn’t be too proud of the US’ capacity for “resistance”. Overall, we are one of the easier people in the world to lie to, wide swathes of the country tolerate a cruelly unequal society and there are few wars and/or armed international meddlings that the majority of Americans have not supported, at least initially. Trump, however, has been so crazy and venal, while lying to and pissing off too many people at the same time, that he now looks like an incompetent conman (one of the few sinners Americans almost universally dislike). Sadly, Trump is less the problem than Trumpism, an illiberal, kinda dickish 35-40% of the electorate that is basically driven by a blood-faith-soil message and really hates the US as it is currently constituted. Trump has shown every politician on the Right an easy way to power. The next leader of this plurality will be more serious and better organised. A crazy, ineffective Trump still has a floor of around 40% approval and is still causing a lot of damage. President Pence would have mouthed a couple of platitudes about God and bipartisanship and would have had the ACA in ruins months ago.

    If Putin did really interfere with the last election, then his main achievement was to expose a fundamentally damaged political culture an election cycle or two before it became impossible to ignore. Trump, for all the insanity, still has a supportive base. Thus, I am still not optimistic about 2018, never mind 2020.

  7. Richard Prescott says:

    What we all know now, and were warned about a lot last year but failed to heed, is Russian influence in the social net aided and abetted by the Bannon led Brietbart News and Alec Jones rant hall InfoWars and twisted news Drudge Report pulled the wool over a lot of American’s eyes.
    Yes, even the upper middle class, once the Fox News crap cable team and CNN’s dull you with repetition ad nauseam group got going. So people were misled, lied to and encouraged to act out “because he did it and got away with it”.
    Oh, and don’t forget the Steve Miller rant and rail tactics for the far right, alt right and neo-nazis with a KKK spicing.
    What really bothers me is that anyone who really paid attention once it appeared Trump might pull it off looked no farther. Overturned any rocks to see the slime underneath. Many parroted Fox News “reporting” with no sense of disbelief.

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