A child walks past a graffiti depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on the walls of a bar in the old town in Vilnius, Lithuania, May 14, 2016.
Photo by Mindaugas Kulbis/AP

Trump’s affection for Russia’s Putin knows no bounds

Russian President Vladimir Putin is not popular with the American mainstream. Common sense suggests presidential candidates in the United States have no incentive to praise, defend, and cozy up to the Russian autocrat – even if the admiration is sincere – because there are no real pro-Putin voting constituencies.

And yet, Donald Trump just can’t seem to stop. A week after the Republican nominee said he’d like to incorporate the Russian leader into his post-election presidential transition process, and sided with Putin over U.S. intelligence agencies, Trump now wants Hillary Clinton to be nicer to the foreign foe. The Boston Globe reported yesterday:
Speaking at a rally in Springfield, Ohio, Trump took issue with Clinton’s criticism of the Russian strongman, who has been denounced for his military assertiveness and anti-democratic tendencies.

”She speaks very badly of Putin, and I don’t think that’s smart,” Trump said. ”How do you speak so badly of someone?”
Let me get this straight. When it comes to foreign affairs, Trump believes it’s perfectly “smart” to speak “very badly” about China, Mexico, NATO allies, and others. When it comes to domestic affairs, Trump has no qualms about speaking “very badly” about women, Latinos, African Americans, veterans, immigrants, people with disabilities, U.S. military leaders, and America’s elected leaders.

But if Hillary Clinton has unkind words for Russia’s authoritarian bully, that rubs Trump the wrong way. It’s just not “smart,” in the GOP candidate’s eyes.

For what it’s worth, Trump can take some comfort in the fact that his warmth toward Putin has been noticed in Moscow. The Russian president reflected on the American presidential election yesterday at an annual gathering of Russian and international world policy experts.
After refusing to take sides in the 2016 election, Putin offered praise for Republican candidate Donald Trump’s strategy.

“Trump has chosen his own way of reaching the hearts of the voters,” Putin said. “He is acting extravagantly, but not so pointlessly.”

“He represents the interests of the part of the society tired of the elites that have held power for decades,” he added. “He is representing the common people, and he is acting like a common guy himself.”
And if there’s one person who can speak credibly about the scourge of elites holding power for decades, it’s the Russian president who’s effectively, if not literally, led his country as its chief executive since 1999.