When Time named German chancellor Angela Merkel person of the year for 2015, Trump tweeted “I told you @TIME Magazine would never pick me as person of the year despite being the big favorite. They picked person who is ruining Germany.” (Since he won it this year, he’s been complaining to his cheering crowds that TIME no longer calls it “Man of the Year,” apparently feeling that being a mere “person” is less impressive.)
Interestingly, we haven’t heard him complain about the latest Forbes rankings of the most powerful people in the world. Trump makes the list, but he’s in the No. 2 spot. No. 1 is Russian president Vladimir Putin. But then, for some reason, Trump has never seemed to feel the same sense of macho competitiveness with Putin that he’s shown toward other people. In fact, Trump has been defensive of him, almost submissive. Considering his usual aggressive, macho behavior, that is very much out of character.
Throughout this campaign and since the election, Trump has extolled the virtues of Putin, showing none of his usual bellicose bravado or nationalist fervor. He didn’t seem to know that Russia had invaded Ukraine and when corrected said that he believed it was a welcome invasion. When confronted with the fact that Putin stands accused of killing reporters and and political rivals he responded by saying, “Our country does plenty of killing also.” He later joked on the campaign trail about following Putin’s lead and killing journalists himself. He goes out of his way to call the Russian leader “strong,” Trump’s highest compliment.
Today Trump says that he and Putin have never met, but in this TV interview taped in Moscow in November 2013, Trump said he has a relationship with the Russian president and that he assumed Putin would be watching. Trump often compliments Putin for his “popularity”and throughout the campaign he has insisted, in spite of growing evidence to the contrary, that there is no reason to believe that the Russian government is responsible for the infiltration of Democratic Party and Clinton staffers’ computers. Indeed, Trump is so adamant about this that he’s pretty much accused his own government of lying about it. That is an extreme reaction and one that seems inexplicable for an incoming president. POST