When he was questioned about his warm endorsements of Russian President Vladimir Putin and reminded that Putin has killed quite a few critics, Trump shrugged, ”Our country does plenty of killing also.”
Asked about the attempted coup in Turkey, Trump’s tropism toward tyrants was manifest. He praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s success in thwarting the coup, and when asked about Erdogan’s crackdown on thousands of journalists, educators, judges, civil servants and others, Trump was unmoved. ”I think right now when it comes to civil liberties, our country has a lot of problems,” he said. He mentioned Ferguson and Baltimore and police being killed, and he offered this: ”When the world looks at how bad the United States is and then we go and talk about civil liberties, I don’t think we’re a very good messenger.”
Trump has infamously praised Saddam Hussein (”He killed terrorists” — no, the opposite), China’s communist bosses who mowed down protesters in Tiananmen Square (”They put it down with strength”) and even Kim Jong Un, about whom he said: ”You got to give him credit. … He wiped out the uncle. He wiped out this one, that one. I mean, this guy doesn’t play games.”
But Trump has reserved his greatest affection for Putin. Yes, George W. Bush praised Putin (once), but he wised up.
Trump is on notice about all of that and much more.
Part of Trump’s appeal is chauvinism — a strutting sort of nationalist appeal (unsupported by anything approaching policy ideas). It’s more than odd, then, that his followers are unshaken by his willingness to be Putin’s poodle.