Putin: No more immoral than the U.S.?
“I didn’t think I’d ever see the day when a Republican president equated America with Russia,” said David French in NationalReview.com. But President Trump actually espoused that “nonsensical moral relativism” during an interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly last week. When Trump reiterated his “respect” for Russian president Vladimir Putin, O’Reilly noted the Russian president is “a killer”—a thug who invaded Ukraine, bombed Syrian civilians to defend a genocidal dictator, and routinely has journalists and opponents murdered. Trump shrugged it all off. “We’ve got a lot of killers,” he said. “What do you think? Our country’s so innocent?” Had Barack Obama answered that way, my fellow conservatives “would call it moral treason,” said Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal. Remember when Obama gave a series of speeches mildly regretting past U.S. “mistakes,” which Republicans derided as his Apology Tour? “Trump didn’t apologize for America. He indicted it.”
Still, Trump’s core point “is a solid one, even if the vessel is deeply flawed,” said Ed Krayewski in Reason.com. The U.S. isn’t innocent, and has a long history of supporting murderous regimes. Even Obama “with his lofty rhetoric and Nobel Peace Prize,” sought to get along with plenty of killers, including Saudi Arabia’s royal family, “which executes people for things like adultery, atheism, homosexuality, and even witchcraft.” It makes strategic sense for Trump to seek “some degree of cooperation from Putin,” said Julia Ioffe in TheAtlantic.com. What’s so troubling is that Trump consistently praises Putin as “strong” and “tough,” as if our new president believes “the head of a nation should be a skull-cracking, throat-kicking action hero.” As Trump escalates his own attacks on journalists and opponents, you have to worry where this is going.
Meanwhile, Republican leaders “huffed and they puffed, but they didn’t do anything other than lightly chastise the president,” said Asawin Suebsaeng in TheDailyBeast.com. “I obviously don’t see this issue the same way he does,” harrumphed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Sen. Marco Rubio fired off some outraged tweets, but Rubio said last year Trump was “a con man’’ who couldn’t be trusted with the nuclear arsenal—and then endorsed him anyway. “Every passing week makes it clearer and clearer that the GOP is Trump’s party”; his admiration for Putin’s brutality is “just a mild inconvenience.”