Frank Bernheisel: The View From Here
Frank Bernheisel
Frank Bernheisel
Posted 09.11.16
Just Outside Washington


The Trump - Putin Bromance

In a recent edition of the Washington Post, David Weigel outline outlined some of Donald Trump's praise for Russian President Validimir Putin. It appears as if we are getting used to Donald Trump's off-the-cuff statements describing Putin as a "strong leader" and saying that the United States gets "no respect" from Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Donald has also pointed out on NBC that he on would have "a good relationship" with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Donald Trump has a long history of deals in Russia going back to the 1980s -- that was "back in the USSR.".

In 2013 he held the Miss Universe pageant (he owns it) in Moscow. Trump had invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to a personal meeting, which Putin canceled at the last minute but sent a gift. However, the pageant was not a gift. The Donald was paid to bring the pageant to Moscow and he signed an agreement to build a Trump Tower in the heart of Moscow while there. After the pageant, The Donald attended a glitzy party with Russia's financial elite about which he said: "Almost all of the oligarchs were in the room."

Trump's enthusiasm for Putin seems contagious in the Republican Party, inspiring positive remarks from Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.). According to recent YouGov's polling, Putin's favorability rating among Republican voters in the US -- while still quite negative -- has sharply improved since 2014, from -66 points to -27; a big improvement.

Scary, given Russia's determination not to play by accepted international rules and their adversarial stance versus the United States. Vladimir Putin seems very pleased with The Donald's comments, recently saying: "I am actually very grateful to him for formulating his position in a straightforward manner."

As mentioned earlier, The Donald thinks that Vladimir Putin is a strong leader; that is wrong.

During a recent visit in Moscow, it was explained to me that Putin is a dictator. My Russian interlocutor outlined the organization of the Russian government to me, indicating that the President, Vladimir Putin, is over the three branches of government: Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary and he appoints or approves those that report to him.

My understanding is different and that the Federal Assembly (State Duma, lower house, and the Federation Council, upper house), are elected by the people, pass laws, appoints judges, and can impeach the President.

But my Russian friend was very clear -- President Vladimir Putin runs everything. And, based upon my visit to Russia, the Russian people like Vladimir Putin.

And, so does Donald Trump.