Posted by: David Offutt | January 21, 2017

Trump/Putin: What Sort of Person Is Our New President?

President Donald J. Trump is the most blatantly authoritarian figure ever elected and will probably dwarf the authoritarian administrations of Nixon and Bush/Cheney. But his primary goal may be to restore the Gilded Age to a much greater extent than Hoover, Reagan, and W. Bush only dreamed of. (Photo: somalilandpress.com)

President Donald J. Trump is the most blatantly authoritarian figure ever elected and will probably dwarf the authoritarian administrations of Nixon and Bush/Cheney. But his primary goal may be to restore the Gilded Age to a much greater extent than Hoover, Reagan, and W. Bush only dreamed of. (Photo: somalilandpress.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After being the most repulsive candidate ever nominated by one of our major political parties and after being the most vindictive and obnoxious president-elect, we are about to see whether Donald J. Trump can master the art of being President of the United States. His refusal to even pretend to be interested in uniting the American people and his infatuation with the dictator of Russia require us to take a look at what manner of man we now have in the White House.

 

Thanks to an unverified dossier published by BuzzFeed, the biggest question right now is whether or not Mr. Trump is a puppet of Vladimir Putin.  He certainly appears to be, but let’s get one thing straight. The Donald is not being blackmailed by Mr. Putin. The Russian dictator may have a video of our new president cavorting with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room, but who cares? Not Trump and certainly not the minority of Americans who voted for him.

 

As a candidate in the Republican primaries, The Donald boasted that he could shoot someone in Times Square, and it wouldn’t cost him any votes – and he was absolutely correct. He saw anger in the land and decided to appeal to the absolute worst instinct of every voter who held at least one pet peeve. He used no political correctness (no civility or dignity) and continuously appealed to anyone who wanted to return to the “good ol’ days.”

 

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump seemed to have formed a mutual admiration society. They are kindred spirits who each love power and money. (Photo: Oliver Bunic/Bloomberg)

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump seemed to have formed a mutual admiration society. They are kindred spirits who each love power and money. (Photo: Oliver Bunic/Bloomberg)

I previously wrote that “We’ve come to know (Trump) as all the following: a pathological liar, a sociopath, a bully, a cheat, a bigot, a misogynist, a sexist, a racist, a xenophobe, a con artist, an anti-Semite, a homophobe, a white supremacist, an ostentatious plutocrat, and a supporter of violence and/or threats against his critics.” Trump has been upfront on all these things and has never tried to hide any of them. If enough voters could relate to any one of these traits and ignore the others, with all the free media attention, he knew he could win.

 

What could Vladimir Putin have on Trump that we don’t already know – or presume anyway? Trump, of course, denies that Putin has anything on him. That’s irrelevant because we all witnessed throughout the campaign that the man is a chronic liar – he can’t help himself. We’ll never know when he’s telling the truth. It doesn’t matter. Those who supported him before the election will support him now. Even Republican congressmen who were embarrassed by him before the election now abide him.

 

Richard Nixon is best remembered for the dirty tricks of his 1972 re-election campaign, the Watergate investigations, and his resignation from office. Forgotten is that LBJ accused him of treason when his 1968 campaign sabotaged the Paris Peace Talks.

Richard Nixon is best remembered for the dirty tricks of his 1972 re-election campaign, the Watergate investigations, and his resignation from office. Forgotten is that LBJ accused him of treason when his 1968 campaign sabotaged the Paris Peace Talks. (Photo by David Offutt: a detail of the 1968 Norman Rockwell painting in the National Art Gallery, Washington, DC

The other issue publicized by BuzzFeed is this: Did the Trump campaign work with the Russians to introduce information into the election campaign that would increase the public’s negative perception of Hillary Clinton? The Republicans have been targeting Ms. Clinton since 1993, so the answer is probably yes.  Trump even publicly asked Russia to hack her emails. Also, Republican campaigns have been working with foreign powers to affect U. S. presidential elections for years, so this would be no surprise.

 

Richard Nixon’s 1968 campaign learned that President Lyndon Johnson was about to end the Vietnam War through negotiations at the Paris Peace Talks. Nixon’s people worked with the government of South Vietnam and got it to refuse to cooperate with the settlement and wait for him to take office. This prevented V.P. Hubert H. Humphrey, whom historians have ranked as one of the three greatest senators in U.S. history, from getting elected. (Henry Clay and Daniel Webster were the other two “greatest senators.”)

 

Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign learned that Iran was in such dire need of cash due to President Jimmy Carter’s freezing of Iranian assets in the U.S. that Iran was about to release the 52 American hostages held in Tehran. Agents from Iran claim they met with agents from Reagan and agreed to hold the hostages until after the election in return for a better deal. After Reagan’s inauguration, we immediately began flying badly needed supplies to Iran; eventually, the Reagan administration began selling missiles to Iran so as to get funds, prohibited by Congress, to purchase Soviet weapons for Contra rebels to help them overthrow the government of Nicaragua.

 

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R.-AL) was rejected by the Senate when Ronald Reagan tried to appoint him to a federal judgeship. His record as Alabama's attorney general was deemed too racist oriented. (Photo: Andrew Harrier/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R.-AL) was rejected by the Senate when Ronald Reagan tried to appoint him to a federal judgeship in 1983. His record as Alabama’s attorney general was deemed too racist oriented. (Photo: Andrew Harrier/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Putin would relish having a kindred spirit in the White House. Human rights issues have always been a thorny issue between the West and the old Soviet Union and present-day Russia. Trump plainly cares nothing about human rights at home, so why would be care about them in Russia. Trump’s appointment of Jeff Sessions as attorney general tells you all you need to know. A fellow authoritarian ruler like Trump will be a breath of fresh air for Putin.

 

We definitely need to be concerned about the probable reason that Trump envies, respects, and wants to emulate the dictator Putin. Putin is conceivably the richest man in the world. Bill Gates has assets of 75 billion dollars. Putin’s wealth has been estimated at equal that amount, 10 billion dollars more, or even twice Gates’ wealth. How did a former member of the KGB spy network get all that money? He used his government positions as president and prime minister to rig elections, silence opposition, influence policy, and invest in property and hedge funds.

 

Mr. Trump can certainly relate to that. Just think about all the wealth that being president can bring to himself and his family. What other reason would a man like he want to be president? He knows nothing about government, the U.S. Constitution, U.S. history, or essential issues like climate change and nuclear proliferation.

 

He never released his tax records before the election, so there’s no reason for him to ever release them – his supporters clearly don’t care where his money is invested. He never planned to divest himself of his businesses – that would defeat his whole reason for being president. He says he will let his family manage his enterprises – and they promise to never discuss them with hm. Right. It might be safer if we not ask about his family business either.

 

Ronald Reagan's administration holds the record for the most felony convictions in U.S. history. Of the 31 convictions, only 14 were for the Iran-Contra affair, while 17 were financial scandals in his executive agencies. (Photo by David Offutt of a portrait that hangs in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library)

Ronald Reagan’s administration holds the record for the most felony convictions in U.S. history. Of the 31 convictions, only 14 were for the Iran-Contra affair, while 17 were financial scandals in his executive agencies. (Photo by David Offutt of a portrait that hangs in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library)

Also, Trump’s creation of a plutocratic cabinet of millionaires and billionaires doesn’t bode well. His example of denying conflicts of interest will no doubt be contagious – no matter what his nominees say in their confirmation hearings. The “greed is good” mentality of the Gilded Age and Reagan Era will be back with a vengeance. The vast financial scandals that characterized the Grant, Harding, and Reagan administrations may well pale in comparison with what’s to come.

 

To appraise the president, as well as his cabinet, we can do no better than combine the assessments of New York Times columnist Charles Blow and Truthout.org editor William Rivers Pitt: Each cabinet meeting will be a “Monsters’ Ball,” where they are served “some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”

By David Offutt

A version of this essay was published January 21, 2017, in the El Dorado News-Times as a guest column.

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Responses

  1. David, if you want to be taken seriously, you need to stay grounded in reality. Lately all your essays do is repeat hysterical Democratic party talking points.
    .
    “infatuation with the dictator of Russia.”
    .
    Putin was elected democratically with 64% of the vote and since then his approval rating has risen to 87%. Under the Russian constitution, his power is rather limited, more like a U.S. Secretary of State than a U.S. president. There is no factual basis to call Putin a dictator.

    The Buzzfeed dossier written by a paid MI6 agent has been discredited on many levels. As you said yourself, even if there really is a Trump sex tape, nobody cares. If Putin were indeed blackmailing Trump, what would Putin have Trump do — create peace and prosperity? As if that would be a bad thing???
    .
    “Did the Trump campaign work with the Russians to introduce information into the election campaign that would increase the public’s negative perception of Hillary Clinton? … the answer is probably yes.”
    .
    David, even Obama has acknowledged that the DNC emails were “leaked,” not “hacked.” Former UK ambassador Craig Murray, who acted as a middle man to collect the emails from the leaker, has stated that the leaker was a Washington insider, not a Russian. Murray is a liberal, not a Republican, not a conservative, and not a Russian.

    There is speculation that the DNC leaker may have been a pro-Bernie DNC staffer named Seth Rich who was later shot in the back under mysterious circumstances. If you’re going to talk about unproven allegations, why don’t you talk about Seth Rich?

    “Republican campaigns have been working with foreign powers to affect U. S. presidential elections for years.” Just as the U.S. meddles in foreign elections. Why do you suppose Russia would prefer Trump over Hillary? Could it be because Hillary is a neocon warmonger who helped overthrow a democratically elected government in Ukraine and who convinced a reluctant Obama to bomb Libya back to the stone ages?

    “Putin is conceivably the richest man in the world.” False. That claim originates from a Putin adversary and is based on the idea that the President of Russia “owns” all of Russia’s national resources and state-owned businesses, which is patently false.

    “He used his government positions as president and prime minister to rig elections.” Why would someone who enjoys an 87% approval rating need to rig elections? David, I advise you to educate yourself on the Russian political situation, rather than repeating the Democratic party McCarthy-esque talking points. Putin is worshiped by Russians because he is the first post-USSR Russian leader who is not a corrupt American puppet. Putin turned the Russian economy around by rejecting the toxic neoliberal policies that had been foisted on Russia by the Clinton administration.

    Trump’s “primary goal may be to restore the Gilded Age.” Hello, David, the Gilded Age has already been restored. Inequality has risen under both Democratic and Republican administrations due to the neoliberal economic policies supported by both parties.

    Your unquestioning acceptance of Democratic party talking points is blinding you to the real issues — that Trump won because of the “New Democrats'” toxic neoliberal economic policies and neocon foreign policies. Trump won because the DNC rigged its primary to make Sanders lose, even though polls showed that Sanders had a much better chance of beating Trump than Hillary. Trump won because the DNC wanted Trump to win the Republican nomination, foolishly believing that Trump would be a pushover opponent. Trump won because Hillary refused to campaign in critical rust belt states where the “deplorables” live.

    Trump may indeed turn out to be a bad president. Every president in my lifetime (with the possible exception of Ike) has been a bad president, why should Trump be any different? But after 8 years of unpopular neoliberal/neocon policies, you cannot blame voters for choosing “change” instead of “more of the same.” Voters understand full well that they probably won’t get the change they were promised, but we don’t get to vote on individual issues.

    If I were teaching 11th grade history, I might ask my students to consider the parallels between Donald Trump and Andrew Jackson. I might also ask my students to consider the parallels between Joseph McCarthy and today’s Democratic party.


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