Again and again over the last six months we’ve seen Donald Trump take memes and messages which are either implicit in mainstream Republican politics or explicit on the fringes of conservatism and make them loud and explicit. That might be on bashing Mexican immigrants, banning Muslims or any number of other examples. Now we’re seeing the same thing with Vladimir Putin.
As I’ve written on a number of occasions and as many others have noticed, US Republicans are really, really into Vladimir Putin. Yes, yes, they think he’s a menace, threatening us in Ukraine and Syria and so forth, overmanning President Obama on various fronts. But it’s been pretty clear that for many Republicans, while they decry him as evil and awful, they actually like the way he acts. He doesn’t pussyfoot around. He doesn’t do nuance. If he doesn’t get respect, he invades. He doesn’t dilly-dally around in Syria, he just goes in and starts shooting. My erstwhile pals over at Bloomberg news several weeks ago had a lede that read something to the effect of, Barack Obama has been hemming and hawing about a Syria no fly zone for years, Putin just took over the skies overnight.
Trump is now on this, too. First saying he’s proud to have the admiration of such a respected leader like Vladimir Putin. And this morning, well, if Putin occasionally has to kill a domestic critic, at least he knows how to lead.
US Republicans look at Vladimir Putin and mainly wish he was playing for their team. Trump, like in every case, has simply taken what was implicit and made it explicit and loud. Vladimir Putin? Yeah, he’s awesome. I’ll be like him!