No one was surprised yesterday when Donald Trump boasted about the kind words he recently received from Vladimir Putin, even playing down Russian president’s record of persecuting journalists and dissidents.
“He’s running his country and at least he’s a leader,” Trump told Joe Scarborough. “You know, unlike we have in this country.” Trump did eventually get around to condemning Putin’s more repressive actions and his invasion of Ukraine with the bold declaration: “Oh sure, absolutely.”
Trump has been heaping praise on Putin throughout his presidential campaign, even insisting that he met the Russian president when they appeared in the same 60 Minutes segment despite the fact their interviews took place on separate continents.
He specifically has hailed Putin’s “amazing” intervention in Syria, thanking him for “bombing the hell out of ISIS,” even though Russian planes rarely target the terrorist group and much more frequently attack the rebels fighting against ISIS.
Putin, of course, has led a widespread crackdown on political and religious freedom in his own country. Earlier this year, a former top government official and opposition leader was assassinated next to the Kremlin in a mysterious case that was likely the work of a government-tied death squad.
Beyond just propping up the brutal Syrian dictatorship, Putin oversaw Chechnya’s transformation into a mini despotic state governed by Sharia law, which may surprise Trump since he has made anti-Muslim bigotry a central part of his campaign platform.
And, of course, Putin has backed an all-out assault on the LGBT community, even criminalizing speech in favor of gay rights if it’s deemed to be “propaganda” aimed at children.
This anti-LGBT crusade may explain why so many U.S. conservatives conveniently ignore the attack on Protestants by the Russian government and Russian-backed forces in Ukraine while railing against the phony persecution of Christians in America. As we’ve mentioned before, Putinphilia has taken a hold over the Religious Right:
Evangelist Franklin Graham hailed Putin as a hero for taking “a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda” even as “America’s own morality has fallen so far on this issue”; Bryan Fischer called Putin a “lion of Christianity” and called upon U.S. lawmakers to adopt similar speech prohibitions; Matt Barber marveled that Putin was able to “out-Christian our once-Christian nation”; Sam Rohrer called Putin “the moral leader of the world”; Scott Lively lavished praise on Putin for “championing traditional marriage and Christian values”; and Rush Limbaugh applauded Putin for stopping “a full-frontal assault on what has always been considered normalcy.”
Officials with the World Congress of Families have lauded Putin as a savior of the entire world. The group organized a meeting for conservative activists at the Kremlin, which also played host to Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, who traveled to Russia to defend the country’s anti-LGBT crackdown in face of a Western “attempts to silence those of us who stand for the truth of marriage.”
Putin also has support from Fox News pundits, Trump’s pal Alex Jones and conservative talk radio hosts, including one who is contemplating a move to Russia because “it seems to be the best country left on the planet, run by a decent leader.”
Seeing that Russia is propping up hard right parties, it’s no surprise that Putin and Trump are fawning over each other.