Putin’s off-the-cuff comments at specific question amidst a gaggle of reporters after year end presser, welcoming Trump’s surprisingly sane, realpolitik attitude towards Russia is imputed to mean Putin agrees with Trump’s domestic fear-mongering and racism which is roiling the United States 2016 election season.
December 17, 2015
Western media is going into hysterics regarding the comments Putin made about Trump after his annual year-end marathon press conference today.
Specifically, after the main 3 hour presser mostly dealing with domestic issues, while mobbed by journalist, in reply to a specific question about Trump, he said Trump was “colorful” and “talented” thereby setting off excited chatter from the Western media that Putin is endorsing Trump and by implication his open Islamophobism and racism in general that have roiled US domestic politics.
First the Quotes
Reporter: Vladimir Vladimirovich what do you think of Donald Trump?
Putin (busy signing autographs): What?
Reporter: What do you think of Donald Trump?
Putin: He is a very colorful person, talented beyond any doubt. It is not up to us to determine his worthiness, that is up to US voters, but he is the absolute leader of the presidential race.
He says that he wants a different level of relations, tighter and deeper relations with Russia, how can we not welcome that? Of course we welcome it.
On domestic politics, his manner of speaking, what he employs to raise his popularity. It’s not our concern to evaluate his work.
(Nods goodbye and walks away through the throng)
That Trump is “colorful”, “talented” at least at showmanship, self-promotion (like any consummate politician) and earning tons of money is not disputed, however odious his views or methods.
On Trump being the “absolute leader” of the Presidential race, the error is that it applies specifically to the Republican race where he leads by a wide margin in the latest polls, with recent head-to-head polls against Clinton see her lead narrowing to 6%.
What’s Putin “Endorsing”?
Firstly, actually watching the video, one can see Putin is being diplomatic to a pointed question.
Secondly, is Putin endorsing Trump’s Islamophobia or his attitude towards Mexicans and other minorities? Or his tough talk toward China – a Russian ally? Hardly.
Putin is careful not to “evaluate [Trump’s] work” saying it is up to the American voters. This indeed is a consistent stance he has about other nations leaders’ domestic policies where Russia has no stake. This is true of both Poroshenko and Erdogan who are not among Putin’s favorite people. He has praised Erdogan as a “tough negotiator who cares for his people” for example even while lashing out at the recent Turkish downing of a Russian bomber on th Turko-Syrian border and Erdogan’s role in this.
What Putin does find favorable about Trump is his (surprisingly) sane, realpolitik attitude towards Russia – in the manner of Kissinger – as his Guardian interview in October and other comments suggest. In contrast, his hawkish opponents in both the Republican field and Hillary Clinton who has compared Putin’s actions to Hitler’s fall over themselves on who can sound more warmongering on Russia.
What Putin Said At the (Main) Presser
This careful reply, respecting the right of another country’s voters to elect who they choose, in the manner their constitution and laws decide – however peculiar and broken like many observers think that the US system currently is – is worth reading.
(As an aside, he makes reference to the threats in 2012 by some conservative states to jail foreign observers who stray within 100 feet – not 15 feet or 5 meters – of voting places.)
Unlike Western governments and media which are always sermonizing and moralizing about various countries and leaders adherence to “humanitarian” standards that they often themselves fail at – and leading to hypocrises like being against dictators whose policies they oppose but cosying up to autocratic monarchies or right wing dictatorships who can “work with them” – Russia (like China, India and the majority of countries around the world) acts more simply: how said country or leader treats Russia. They also respect the right of other countries to choose leaders who oppose them.
Thus Trump’s surprisingly clearheaded realpolitik attitude towards Russia can only be welcomed as Putin commented, while he is willing to work with anyone who is chosen by the American people.
Putin has on many occasions spoken out against Islamophobia and other forms of racism given that Russia is a multi-ethic, multi-nation state with over 160 ethnicities, and over 12% (more than 16 million) Muslim citizens.
What Putin actually said during presser and after in one easily viewable graphic.