July 28, 2016
Fellow Travelers: Trump and Putin
Nicholas Kristof (Did Putin Try to Steal an American Election?) correctly cautions against viewing the apparent Trump-Putin political alliance in terms of cold war conspiracy. Trump is not some "Siberian Candidate," a deep cover agent for Moscow. It's worse than that.
Trump's is not an ideological or moral commitment to a foreign adversary. His willingness to walk up to the line of treason in spirit if not in law is rooted in a pure lust for power and personal gain by any means; one that leads him to conflate himself, his prejudices, and his business interests with American national interest. That is the sum of his America First patriotism: Trump First. Putin also conflates himself, his power, and his gain with Russian nationalism. It's the core of his own demagogic appeal. Trump's "I alone" affinity for Putin's post-communist authoritarian kleptocracy is a frighteningly natural one of like minds and like leaders.
That Trump's financial interests coincide with the Putin kleptocracy and its overseas stash of untold billions looted from Russia's economy is not merely a matter of money and currying favor for investment. Though it is that, it is also a matter of the company Trump keeps. It is no surprise to find a man as poorly grounded in any genuine knowledge, moral commitment, or ideology as Trump, with the attention span of a flea according to his ghostwriter, mouthing views that are commonplace consensus in his pool of prospective investors.
Trump is a fellow traveler along the path of greed and self-aggrandizement.