Yesterday Washington Post editorial writer David Ignatius compared Donald Trump to Vladimir Putin:
He promises to restore his country’s greatness, without offering a specific plan. He uses crude, vulgar expressions that make him sound like an ordinary guy, even though he’s a billionaire. He’s a narcissist who craves media attention. And for all his obvious shortcomings, he’s very popular.
Whom am I referring to? Russian President Vladimir Putin, of course. But the parallels with a certain American politician known as the “The Donald” are obvious.
Donald Trump is in some respects an American version of Putin. Like the Russian leader, he seeks to reverse his country’s losses and return its former glory. He promises a restoration of power and prestige without trifling about the details.
“We have no victories,” Trump complained to NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “As a country, we don’t have victories anymore. And it’s very sad.”
Trump’s official slogan is “Make America Great Again!” It’s a line borrowed from Ronald Reagan’s acceptance speech at the 1980 Republican convention, when the Gipper promised a “crusade to make America great again.” But really, this kind of talk is the mainstay of politicians around the world who campaign on a platform of national restoration. Their message is as much psychological as political.
This does raise some interesting questions even though Ignatius is obviously overly enamored of these facile analogies, having already written an editorial in April 2014 stating that Putin is borrowing from Reagan’s playbook by intervening in Ukraine. This is not to speak of the message put forward in his novel “Body of Lies” that the CIA has been overly constrained by legality and oversight, telling Ken Silverstein in a Harper’s interview: “CIA officials put up with a degree of public abuse that would be unimaginable in the case of military officers.” Given what we know about torture and renditions, this makes him just as scary as Putin if not more so.
But there is something to all this. Putin emerged as a popular leader by playing the nationalist card. As opposed to Yeltsin who put down the red carpet for foreign investors buying up Russian assets at bargain basement prices, he made it clear that he had no use for Thomas Friedman type “globalization” panaceas. He has also more recently become the nemesis of the European Union, blaming it for scheming against Russian interests and throwing his support behind ultraright parties like the French National Party that are also opposed to the EU on a nationalist basis.
Despite the Republican Party’s long standing agreement with the Democrats that trade agreements like NAFTA are good for their class interests, Trump has attacked Obama’s latest free trade gambit on the basis that it does not defend American interests aggressively enough as CNN reported:
Donald Trump has lashed out against President Obama’s plans to create a free trade area across the Pacific.
The outspoken businessman, who is known to start brawls on Twitter, sent out a series of tweets explaining his opposition.
“The Trans-Pacific Partnership is an attack on America’s business. It does not stop Japan’s currency manipulation. This is a bad deal,” he said.
The U.S. government has been negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) since 2009 with 11 other nations, including Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Chile, Canada and Mexico.
It hopes to wipe out trade tariffs to bring down the cost of importing and exporting, which would help make U.S. businesses more competitive overseas. It would also make it easier for businesses to invest in other countries.
The U.S. government estimates a TPP agreement would add $223 billion per year to the global economy by 2025.
But Trump believes the deal would hurt U.S. businesses, particularly manufacturers, and put people out of work.
That’s in contrast to Hilary Clinton who backed her husband’s NAFTA to the hilt and who has spoken out of both sides of her mouth on TPP. Meanwhile Jeb Bush, who is likely the Republican candidate for 2016, has attacked Clinton for waffling. Unlike Trump, he is gung-ho on TPP.
Meanwhile Trump’s rabid nativism does resonate with Putin’s pals in Western Europe, ranging from Marine Le Pen to Nigel Farage.
Undoubtedly David Ignatius was unnerved by what Donald Trump told Bill O’Reilly on June 16th: “Putin has no respect for our president whatsoever. He’s got a tremendous popularity in Russia, they love what he’s doing, they love what he represents. I was over in Moscow two years ago and I will tell you — you can get along with those people and get along with them well. You can make deals with those people. Obama can’t. I would be willing to bet I would have a great relationship with Putin. It’s about leadership.”
I doubt that Ignatius is fully capable of understanding the romance that some Americans are developing with Donald Trump, which is some ways is like that from a generation ago when there was great affection—at least from white people—for Ronald Reagan, another man on horseback, or for that matter the feeling that Russians had for Vladimir Putin until the economy started going sour. There’s something about these macho guys that makes insecure men and women all weak in the knees, after all.
Someone tapped into the Reagan, Putin and Trump mystique—all at once—is probably the best qualified to speak about it, namely Paul Craig Roberts who was in Reagan’s Treasury Department and who nowadays carries Putin’s water just as tirelessly as Stephen F. Cohen. In an article titled “Trump for President?” on his blog, Roberts fuses the iconography of the Kremlin and Atlantic City most eloquently:
There is no known politician in America who measures up to Vladimir Putin’s ankle, or to the knee of China’s leaders, or to the waist of Ecuador’s, Bolivia’s, Venezuela’s, Argentina’s, Brazil’s, or to the chests of India’s and South Africa’s.
In Europe, the UK, Australia, and Canada, the natural leaders are also frozen out of the corrupt system.
In the US, “leadership” positions depend on financial support from the ruling economic interests. American presidents and politicians represent about six powerful private interest groups and no one else.
After Celente went to press, Donald Trump announced to much mirth. A “con man” they say, but what else is the President of the United States? Do you think you weren’t conned by Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama? What universe do you live in?
In actual fact, Trump might be our best candidate to date. By all accounts, he is very rich. Thus, he doesn’t need the office in order to become rich by selling out America to interest groups.
By all accounts, Trump has a healthy ego. Thus, he could be capable of standing up to the powerful interest groups that generally determine the governance of the American serfs.
Well, okay, I think I will stick with Jill Stein.