Always keep in mind that the former KGB spook is a grand master geostrategic chess player and understands Western and especially American political dynamics and tactics better than even Democrats do. He knows there's a presidential campaign going on in our country, knows who and what Donald Trump is and how and why he's amassed and is retaining the support that he has and the nature of that support. And he also knows who he wants to see in the White House come 2017. Consequently, he's going to do everything he can to ensure that that person or persons is the one that emerges triumphant ten and a half months from now.
That is the context for "the Russian strongman's" profuse extollation of the billionaire slumlord:
[Russian] President Vladimir Putin hailed Donald Trump as the “absolute leader” in the U.S. presidential contest, praising the candidate’s talk about building a deeper relationship with Russia.
The Republican candidate is “a very colorful character and talented,” Putin said after concluding his three-hour annual press conference in Moscow.
“He’s the absolute leader in the presidential race,” Putin said Thursday, in remarks first reported by the Interfax news service. “He’s said that he wants to move to a new level of ties, closer and deeper ties with Russia. How couldn’t we welcome that? Of course we welcome it."
Putin dodged a question about the abusive language and combative ploys that Trump uses to stay atop the polls, saying “it’s not our place to judge his work.”
Of course it isn't. Czar Vlad recognizes a kindred spirit when he sees one.
For those of you out there who fear that Putin is working a reverse psychology angle - Republican voters will flee any candidate the Russian dictator endorses - relax. Remember the irrational, emotion-driven core of Trump's constituency. They love him for whom he abuses and insults and combats, not what he says or what his domestic or foreign policy stances he claims. They see him as their fairy godfather, the Green Laternesque magic wand waver who will grant them their every wish, the all-powerful genie who will miraculously drive their enemies before them. Basically, the rightwing version of Barack Obama. And the more anybody, right, middle, or left, criticizes him or calls him to account for his words and actions, the more his supporters love him. It is completely unthinking, blind adoration, impregnable to reason, substance, or argument. And the flip side of that is that praise from anybody, even an enemy of America, has the exact same reinforcing effect.
I interpret Putin's praise of Trump not only as an endorsement that will put whom he really wants to see in the White House a year from now - him or Hillary Clinton - but his prediction of that as well. Because, as I've said before, so shall I say again: If there's anybody in the American presidential firmament in 2016 who would be as easy and effortless for Vladimir Putin to manipulate as Barack Obama has been, it would be Donald Trump.
Over/under on how long until The Donald tweets out Putin's endorsement: dinner time today.
UPDATE: Hole in one.
Or, from one gangster to another: