Trump on Putin

Guest post by commentator Greg Mockeridge:


Just barely two weeks into his presidency, Donald Trump has managed, over the course of just one interview, to do much to vindicate the Never Trump movement. It was the Super Bowl interview with Bill O’Reilly where the following exchange took place:

O’REILLY: Putin’s a killer.

TRUMP: We’ve got a lot of killers. Boy, you think our country’s so innocent? You think our country’s so innocent?

O’REILLY: I don’t know of any government leaders that are killers.

TRUMP: Well, take a look at what we’ve done too. We’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’ve been against the war in Iraq from the beginning.

O’REILLY: Mistakes are different than –

TRUMP: A lot of mistakes, okay, but a lot of people were killed. So a lot of killers around, believe me.

What we have here is President Trump engaging in moral equivalence between the United States and present day Russia and Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush. Whatever one may think regarding the Iraq war, comparing President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq with the murderous thuggery of Vladimir Putin is beyond revolting. Over at the Daily Wire, Ben Shapiro pretty much nails it, so I don’t see the need to add much to what he says. But I would like to answer a question he poses:

“…will mainstream conservatives go silent on Trump no matter what he does? Has the halo effect of victory relieved Trump of any pressure to behave with even the most remote semblance of decency? Will Republicans go along with anything Trump says, lying for him like Pence, because they like his policy preferences?”

Well, from what I’ve seen, they (meaning mainstream conservatives) haven’t necessarily “gone silent”. In addition to Vice President Pence not only insulting any reasonably intellectually honest person’s intelligence, but impugning his own integrity, I just heard David Horowitz, of Front Page Magazine, on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox deny that it was moral equivalence in much the same way Pence did.

To his credit, Sen. Marco Rubio, who I am not at all fond of, did denounce Trump in a Twitter post.

Not only do I believe the conservative commentariat needs to denounce President Trump’s moral equivalence in the strongest terms, conservatives serving in his administration should demand the President retract that statement, in the form of a “clarification” perhaps, failing which will result in mass resignations. They need to make clear to President Trump that they refuse to serve in an administration that actively engages in undermining our moral standing in the world.

Unfortunately, I don’t see either happening, at least in any meaningful way, particularly with those in the administration. Whatever one can say about Donald Trump, he has good instincts in choosing yes men to surround himself with. In the case of his choice for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, he picked another set of lips to plant on Putin’s backside.

Will we hold President Trump to at least the same standard we held President Obama to? Or will we, in exchange for some good SCOTUS picks and other sort of conservative policies, sacrifice our own principles?

I am afraid that the nomination of Donald Trump as its presidential candidate will be one of the darkest periods in GOP history. Perhaps its very darkest. I would like to be wrong. But its starting to look like I am right.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.


  1. I’m just a dumb slug, but my first thought when I heard that interview was, ah-ha, now he’s gonna spill the beans on Clinton…then Planned Parenthood. People interpret stuff the way they want. Good grief.

  2. He does have a point. It’s not like the US never got involved in overthrowing other governments, or never “droned” a US citizen w/o charges or trial. I am also not convinced that Iraq was a mistake (in the sense the USGov did not know enough facts) but was simply believing what it wanted to believe to justify its actions.

  3. sorry Greg, I just can’t be horrified by that. Trump is practical. I am horrified by the Bill O’Reilly’s reaction. He could help this country but seems more interested in getting a big splash.
    Bill O’Reilly said he didn’t know of any government leaders that are killers–( Gaddafi? Seth Conrad Rich? ) Perhaps Bill’s interest in getting a “scoop” for attention was why he responded the way he did. Instead he could have moved on since O’Reilly surely does now the truth of Trump’s statement– instead O’Reilly wanted to encourage sensationalism rather an talking seriously and doing what he could to help our country now .
    worried about “moral equivalence? or are we worried about our exceptionalism? Our country is filled with enemies of the “American Way” as it used to be posited in the old Superman shows. Our American way is seen now in the 9th district judges. our American way is co-opted. Let’s don’t waste time in myopia land Greg. We have to be practical and realistic and get behind this opportunity the Lord has given us in this administration.

  4. Greg, quit being a pearl clucher. If you believe that our own intelligence agencies are that Simon Pure, you’re living in a dream world. The major deference between the old KGB and the CIA is that the KGB was a gang of hitmen who’s main purpose was to eliminate opposition to the Communist Party, while the CIA’s job was to gather and coordinate intelligence gathering efforts overseas.

  5. Yeah, the neo-cons are stuck in Cold War thinking under which we can’t possibly think about some strategic, limited partnerships with Russia. And politics is always the art of the practical, so yes, I will gladly accept the one to three SCOTUS appointments, the hundreds of lower federal court appointments, the countless other positive executive actions halting or reversing Obama’s revolution, in exchange for a foreign policy disagreement here or there. I’m always amazed at these people who expect a politician to exactly mirror their policy preferences in every particular. Seems juvenile.

  6. I don’t feel I have to defend everything Trump says. As a matter of fact, I’ve stopped listening to him. If anyone asks me about something he says, I just say: “Well, he’s better than Hillary.”

  7. I was pretty well offended by Trump’s statement which was intended as a reflection on Bush Jr’s character since in virtually the same breath he goes into the diatribe about the Iraq War. Bush Jr for all his faults is a Godly man. He made mistakes regarding Iraq but darn it, Saddam Hussein needed to be deposed.
    Now if as someone above suggested Trump had said, “The US had murderous thugs too – look at Cecile Roberts and Planned Parenthood’s baby murdering,” then he would have been justified in his statement. I would have said it. But I am a nobody.

  8. I don’t mean to pile on, but I think I fall in with a large number of folks in flyover country. Putin is a Russian semi-autocrat and he acts like one. I wouldn’t want that form of government in Texas, but he’s not from here. As long as they are not commies, I don’t much care what they do – just Europeans acting like Europeans always have, until Western Europe turned into a bunch of America – dependent dilettantes. I’m not an isolationist, but I have far more personal interest in the fate of, say, Costa Rica or Tamaulipas (Mex.) state than I do in the fate of Angela Merkel. Who cares? We may indeed have legitimate conflicts with Russia, but the issues we seem to be having with them currently (Syria, Ukraine) aren’t them.

  9. Almost everyone who uses the term ‘neocon’ is an anti-semite or a trafficker in nonsense memes (most having to do with either Trotskyists or Leo Strauss).

    Trump’s trafficking in moral equivalence sophistries (of the sort favored by palaeotwits) is rather off-key when juxtaposed to his promotion of patriotism.

    As for V. Putin, he’s a stone-cold Machiavellian machine boss. He’s an irritant, but not a peril at this point in time. Russia may have been more benevolently governed during the period running from 1905-17 and from 1988-2004; that aside, he’s one of the more congenial characters to have ruled Russia since 1789. He has a vigorous base of support among the Russian public because he’s presided over a genuine (if partial) turn-around re production levels, labor market function, debt-servicing, crime control, and public health.

  10. It’s pretty obvious that Trump desires a good relationship with Putin’s Russia to..
    -for one thing “wipe ISIS off the face of the Earth”.
    To do that, he will spout rhetoric that while is offensive to our ears, is not.. entirely.. untrue.
    Wasn’t it Clinton who approved the killing of Gaddafi? Did not the Kennedy administration try to assassinate Castro many times? Didn’t Bush invade a country and destabilize an entire region with millions dead? What of Obama’s extensive use of drones, a total of 563 strikes?

    That’s just Trump being Trump. Don’t focus on what he says, focus on what he does. The “talk” is just the prelude to the “deal”. Honestly, haven’t you ever heard of good cop, bad copy.
    i would much rather have a man imprudent in speech, then imprudent in action.

  11. Art Deco wrote, “As for V. Putin, he’s a stone-cold Machiavellian machine boss. He’s an irritant, but not a peril at this point in time.”

    I believe his support for the Assad regime makes him very dangerous indeed.

    The only existential threat to Israel would come from a nuclear-armed Iran and anything that strengthens the Shia Crescent (Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Shias of Iraq and the Houtis in Yemen) increases that threat.

    ISIS, insofar as it is making life difficult for Iran and its allies, should be left to pursue its course.

  12. What Trump said about America is klutzy. And both true and impliedly false, too.

    But the bottom line is that with respect to Putin, I don’t see why people are panting for a more confrontational stance vis-a-vis Russia.
    Russia is a problem to be managed and finessed, not something to be turned into Cold War II.

  13. Lucius Q C: “Bush Jr for all his faults is a Godly man. He made mistakes regarding Iraq but darn it, Saddam Hussein needed to be deposed.”

    I just wish, militarily, GW Bush had just strangled the viper (Saddam Hussein, could be confused with George Soros) by continuing to blockade him from the north (the Kurdish state) and the south (Basra and the Shi’ites). I never did get the enormous Operation Overlord buildup, cost, and commitment of Desert Storm and its resultantly withered fruit.

    Let Saddam remain virtual mayor of Chicago (Have you noticed, Bagdad and Chicago are pretty similar in crime and violence. In fact, maybe now Bagdad is safer.)

  14. The criticism of Trump is overwrought. My take away from the O’Reilly exchange is we don’t have to worry about Trump getting in to it with Russia. Trump is a business guy. Fighting is bad for business. Better to make a deal both parties can live with.

  15. (Have you noticed, Bagdad and Chicago are pretty similar in crime and violence. In fact, maybe now Bagdad is safer.)

    Not likely. Greater Chicago has a population of about 8.4 million. About 2/3 live in areas where the homicide rate is 2.3 per 100,000. Another 25% live in areas where it’s been about 5.6 per 100,000. About 12% live in four disconnected zones (a bloc of neighborhoods on the south side with a population of 600,000; a bloc of neighborhoods on the west side with a population of 350,000; Gary and East Chicago, Indiana; and the suburban township of Harvey, Ill) with a homicide rate of 47 per 100,000. Or at least it was until the spike in recent years. Chicago’s police force, given the population in the core city, is as amply staffed as the NYPD, but it operates under a different set of procedural norms and in a different political matrix, so it is much less effective.

  16. In reality, Trump is the perfect slice of Swiss cheese. Sometimes you get nutrition, long needed, and sometimes you get awful holes. Near perfect leaders, we left a long time ago somewhere in the culture revolution of the past century.
    I pray we dodged the Hillary/establishment fatal disease with a mere case of gout that pains us now and then.

  17. “…or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” our First Amendment. Self-defense is inscribed in The Preamble. Self-defense and an invasion are the difference between armed forces and violence, between good will and criminal intent; the same difference between heaven and hell.

  18. Stephen, of course I am not saying we are perfect. Please give me credit for being less naive than that. Acknowledging our imperfections is quite different than drawing moral equivalence between us and the thugocracy that is Putin’s Russia. The same people defending or passing over in silence Trump’s remarks are the same ones who wet their pants with outrage when Obama did similar things. The cult-like loyalty of Trump supporters, many of whom were hitherto credible conservative voices, is more disturbing than Trump himself.

    Analyze, explain to me how drawing moral equivalence between us and Putin’s Russia is practical. What do you think was going through Putin’s mind when he heard the President say that? Probably something along the lines of, “Well done, Donnie boy, my useful idiot!”

    If you don’t find a sitting president actively undermining our moral standing on the world stage horrifying, I don’t know what to say to you.

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