Although various grandees of the Republican Party have greeted Donald Trump’s clinching of their party’s presidential nomination by declaring they will not vote for him, Trump is still able to boast that Russian President Vladimir Putin called the casino magnate “a really brilliant and talented person.’’ Purring like a petted kitten, Trump welcomed Putin’s praise as “a great honor’’ and remarked that the boss of all Russian bosses is “running his country, and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country.’’
Until some new whistle blower from the NSA posts a Putin-Trump dialogue online, we can only imagine what a chat between these two exponents of the leadership principle (in German, der Fuehrerprinzip) might be like. It could go something like this:
Putin: I can’t tell you, Donald, how happy I am that you are vowing to do for your country what I have done for mine. When I came to power, we had our own do-nothing Duma, a frightened populace, and chaos along our southern rim.
Trump: Yes, but there’s a difference between our problem with Mexico and yours with Chechnya. I want to keep the Mexicans out by building a wall while you . . .
Putin: . . . yes, yes, I kept the Chechens inside the Russian Federation by flattening all the walls in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya. And it worked. Today I have a Chechen capo to run that region for me . . . and now and then his button men perform a little intervention to rid me of a meddlesome liberal.
Trump: Like I’ve been saying, there’s no substitute for strength. I’ll tell you what’s bugging me, though. Despite the billions I’ve made in business, I still had to get up on a stage and debate those feeble senators and governors who took whatever money they have from sugar daddies looking for favors.
Putin: I sympathize, Donald, of course. But, personally, I don’t believe in turning the other cheek. I’m sure you saw what happened to that weakling Boris Nemtsov, who went around claiming he had proof that Russian soldiers were getting killed in Ukraine. A security camera showed him walking on a bridge out here in front of the Kremlin. A street-cleaning truck comes along and blocks the camera’s view. You hear gunshots and, when the truck pulls away, there is Nemtsov laid out on the pavement. Listen, Donald, if those sweaty senators are really bothering you, I could ask my Chechen friends to help you out.
Trump: Thanks, Vlad, but I don’t think that will be necessary. Those clowns spent so much time gnawing away at each other that they left me a yellow brick road to the White House.
Putin: Whatever suits you, Donald. But I have to thank you for saying that the United States ought to follow my lead in Syria. You’re the only one who believes what I say about wanting to save Assad’s skin in Syria so that we can wipe out the terrorists later. And one other thing, my friend: When American journalists tried to tell you that I’ve had reporters and dissidents murdered, you were very brave to say, “I think our country does plenty of killing also.’’ I couldn’t have put it better myself.
Trump: No problem. You can understand . . . it’s been such a long time since Americans had a strong leader that they forgot what real strength in a leader looks like.
Putin: On that subject, let me tell you what I did when I came to power. I called in our oligarchs and told them they could keep everything they stole in the ’90s, but if they meddled in politics they’d be sent to Siberia for tax fraud. You ought to do the same with your oligarchs.
Trump: I’ll make a note of that, Vlad. But tell me something — how come with economic sanctions and depressed oil prices, with your soldiers getting killed in Ukraine, and Russian planes being blown out of the air, you still have an 80 percent favorable rating?
Putin: The secret, my friend, is television. Here in Russia, TV belongs to the Kremlin. And TV molds malleable minds. So I don’t care if a few crummy newspapers whine against the state. Take my advice, Donald. As soon as you come to power, seize Fox News by eminent domain. That would be the really strong thing to do.Alan Berger is a retired Globe editorial writer.