Trump is not a peacenik #776
MIKA BRZEZINSKI (HOST): Yeah, do you like Vladmir Putin’s comments about you?
DONALD TRUMP: Sure. When people call you brilliant it’s always good, especially when the person heads up Russia.
JOE SCARBOROUGH (HOST): Well, also is a person that kills journalists, political opponents
WILLIE GEIST: And invades countries.
SCARBOROUGH: And invades countries, obviously, that would be a concern, would it not?
TRUMP: He’s running his country and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country.
SCARBOROUGH: But again, he kills journalist that don’t agree with him.
TRUMP: Well, I think our country does plenty of killing also, Joe. You know. There’s a lot of stuff going on in the world right now, Joe. A lot of killing going on and a lot of stupidity, and that’s the way it is. You didn’t ask me the question. You asked me a different question. That’s fine.
SCARBOROUGH: I’m confused. So you obviously condemn Vladimir Putin killing journalists and political opponents, right?
TRUMP: Oh sure, absolutely.
SCARBOROUGH: Alright. So how would America’s relationship with Russia change if you were president?
TRUMP: Well, i think it would be good. I’ve always felt fine about Putin. I think he is a strong leader. He’s a powerful leader. He’s represented his country, and that’s the way the country is being represented. He’s actually got popularity within his country. They respect him as a leader. Certainly over the last couple of years they’ve respected him as the leader. I think he’s up in the 80s, which is you see where Obama’s in 30s and low 40s, and he’s up in the 80s.
I’m not a big believer in American exceptionalism, as people who have read this blog for years know. But I’m really not crazy about thuggish autocrats like Vladimir Putin either. Trump admires him for being a “strong leader” and that’s because he’s willing to bring the hammer down on people who disagree with him. That’s what “respect” is to Trump — fear and power. And he thinks that America has been way too soft in this regard.
I uhm, disagree with that. The “American exceptionalism” line has infuriated me, but it’s also true that millions of people have worked hard to evolve and have succeeded, if only in fits and starts. America’s behavior has been shameful in hundreds of different ways I’ve spent my life opposing wars and violent interference overseas and police state behavior at home. But just because we have been hypocritical doesn’t mean we should just say “to hell with it” and openly embrace Vladimir Putin’s approach instead.
I know it’s hard to believe, but there are actually worse things in this world than being hypocritical. And using hypocrisy as a way to show that “both sides” are equally wrong is just as lazy as anything David Broder ever said.
By the way, Trump’s approval rating is stuck at 40%.