Opinion: Will Trump’s love affair with Putin finally be the breaking point for Republicans? I doubt it.


HR King
May 29, 2001
By Max Boot
Yesterday at 2:31 p.m. EST

For years, I’ve been hoping that some outrage would finally turn the Republican Party against Donald Trump, and for years, I’ve been bitterly disappointed. Trump survived describing Mexican immigrants as “criminals, drug dealers, rapists” … insulting John McCain for being a POW … mocking a disabled reporter … bragging about grabbing women by their private parts … calling neo-Nazis “very fine people” … arguably obstructing justice to block a probe of his campaign dealings with Russia … fawning over vicious dictators … lying nonstop … engaging in personal vituperation … calling the media “the enemy of the people” … separating immigrant children from their parents … mismanaging the covid-19 pandemic … trying to extort Ukraine into helping him politically … refusing to accept his election defeat … inciting a mob attack on the U.S. Capitol … and too many other scandals to list.
Will the Republican Party finally come to its senses now that one of Trump’s favorite dictators is waging a cruel war of aggression against Ukraine? Hope springs eternal. The Republican Accountability Project — a Never Trump conservative group — has been airing a hard-hitting commercial on Fox “News” Channel that juxtaposes Trump’s sickening praise for Vladimir Putin’s dismemberment of Ukraine (“genius,” “smart,” “savvy”) with heartbreaking pictures of the suffering being inflicted by the Russian military. Trump backtracked a bit last week; he called the invasion a “holocaust” but still would not denounce his pal Putin.
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Even Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, took a veiled swipe at Trump, saying, “There is no room in this party for apologists for Putin,” and former national security adviser John Bolton said Trump would have pulled out of NATO in a second term. Republican leaders are now in a competition to see who can sound tougher on Russia.
Even rank-and-file Republicans, who might be expected to listen to the siren song of Putin apologists such as Tucker Carlson, have turned hawkish on Russia. In one recent poll, only 4 percent of Republicans say Putin’s claims on Ukraine are justified, and only 6 percent have a positive view of Putin. There is, in fact, almost no partisan difference in outlook toward Russia. Americans from both parties say the United States should stop buying Russian oil and impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
So Republicans should be turning against Putin’s No. 1 American apologist, right? They should, but they likely won’t.
A Yahoo News poll provides disturbing evidence of the toxic impact of partisanship on Republican views. Only 3 percent of those who voted for Trump in 2020 say President Biden is “doing a better job leading his country” than Putin is. Nearly half of Trump voters — 47 percent — say Putin is doing a better job than Biden even while the Russian economy is collapsing. In the same survey, 82 percent of Republicans expressed a favorable view of Trump. A CBS News poll last month found that 69 percent of Republicans want Trump to run again, and I doubt those numbers will change much a month from now.
This is how a cult of personality works: Voters support a demagogue regardless of his policies, which can often shift. Remember how Trump went from threatening to rain “fire and fury” down on North Korea to saying he was in love with Kim Jong Un? Republican voters didn’t care, and it’s doubtful they will care about Trump’s views on Russia.
In fact, the Orange Emperor has been kowtowing to Putin for years — who can forget his simpering performance in Helsinki in 2018? — without impairing his GOP support. It’s not as though there was any secret before about how awful Putin was: Even before the latest invasion of Ukraine, the Russian dictator had already attacked that country in 2014, potentially committed war crimes in Syria, interfered in the United States’ 2016 election and jailed dissident Alexei Navalny, among other offenses. There has long been a vocal pro-Putin minority in MAGA land, but most Republicans were never big fans of Russia to begin with. They simply hate Democrats more. In the words of a T-shirt seen at a 2018 Trump rally: “I’d rather be a Russian than a Democrat.” Even mainstream Republicans thrill to Trump’s unhinged attacks on the “radical Democrats” who supposedly “want to destroy our country.”
Former attorney general William P. Barr is sadly typical. In his new memoir, he admitted that Trump “has neither the temperament nor persuasive powers to provide the kind of positive leadership that is needed.” He even said in an interview that Trump was “responsible in the broad sense of that word” for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. He calls the prospect of another Trump candidacy “dismaying,” yet says that if Trump gets the nomination in 2024, he will still support him: “Because I believe that the greatest threat to the country is the progressive agenda being pushed by the Democratic Party, it’s inconceivable to me that I wouldn’t vote for the Republican nominee.”
In short, for most Republicans, partisanship trumps — pardon the word — any principle, even devotion to our democracy. Because most Republicans hate Democrats more than they hate Russia, Trump likely doesn’t have to worry that his Putinphilia will cost him a significant amount of support with his base no matter how many civilians Putin slaughters.



Gold Member
Feb 5, 2003
No it won't. Incredible as it sounds, a poll taken of Trump supporters just a few weeks ago by Yahoo News showed that Putin had a lesser percentage of negativity than Joe Biden. When Putin invaded the Ukranian separatists' territories of Donetsk and Luhansk a few weeks ago, Trump described Putin as a "genius." He followed this up at CPAC by declaring "our leaders dumb and Putin smart." The crowd roared its approval.
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