Of all Trump’s objectionable actions and qualities, these two topics – Russian involvement in the election and Trump’s taxes – are wisely chosen: they both address questions of law and legitimacy, and they are both related to whether Trump is Putin’s useful fool. (Looking at his tax returns would show Trump’s income and how significantly that income rests on Russian loans.)
That’s not all there is to Trump, to be sure: he has other objectionable qualities.
Yet for it all, there’s never been a president so servile, so fawning, before a foreign leader as Trump is toward Putin. (No one thought, for example, that Nixon was weak on the dictators then in Moscow and Beijing. Quite the opposite: Only Nixon could go to China, for example, precisely because he was considered firm, not fawning, to that foreign power.)
There’s much to go, and many setbacks yet ahead, but Trump shows every sign of being Putin’s tiny dancing monkey.
“A very nice letter from Vladimir Putin; his thoughts are so correct,” Trump said in a statement. “I hope both sides are able to live up to these thoughts, and we do not have to travel an alternate path.”
The alternative path to Putin’s would, in fact, be desirable, as it would encourage democracy and productivity at home, and peaceful international relations abroad.
(Small but worth noting: for all the nativism Trump’s kicked up, he has a poor grasp of his native language. In his obsequious reply to Putin, Trump misuses alternate for alternative, and is maladroit even in his praise, using the awkward, ‘his thoughts are so correct,’ something a struggling newcomer to English might use. He has no valid defense against this criticism: Trump’s insisted that his own bar should be high, as he’s assured us that “I know words, I have the best words…“)
As it is, both words and actions show Trump to be unfit for, and hostile to, the fundamental characteristics of a free society.
Garry Kasparov‘s a great hero of mine (and of many millions across the world), not simply for his unquestioned understanding of chess, but even more for his commitment to human freedom and democratic institutions. In the audio interview below, Kasparov speaks about Putin’s manipulation of our recent election.
A man wants to read a woman’s diary, so he breaks into her house, steals it, and publishes it to all the world. When confronted, he denies he’s done anything wrong, and instead revels in his act, on the theory that it’s more important for others to know the woman’s private thoughts.
It should come as no surprise that a dictator, having eviscerated private life in his own country, would see no wrong in transgressing the distinction between public and private in a foreign, still-free society. There is no freedom if there is no private space, such as that of a private political party, beyond others’ reach.
“Democrats are losing on every front and looking for people to blame everywhere,” Putin said in answer to a Russian TV host, one of 1,400 journalists accredited to the marathon session. “They need to learn to lose with dignity.”
“Trump understood the mood of the people and kept going until the end, when nobody believed in him,” Putin said, adding with a grin. “Except for you and me.”
Putin has repeatedly denied involvement despite the accusations coming from the White House, and the Kremlin has repeatedly questioned the evidence for the U.S. claims. On Friday he borrowed from Trump’s dismissal of the accusations, remarking “maybe it was someone lying on the couch who did it.”
“And it’s not important who did the hacking, it’s important that the information that was revealed was true, that is important,” Putin said, referring to the emails that showed that party leaders had favored Hillary Clinton.