(See: Just Above Sunset: Our August Fires)
Shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, a friend of my wife’s was on a tour of Moscow and its environs with a group that got lost in one of its small cities, so they approached a traffic cop to ask directions. As they began, he interrupted and said, “One second! Come with me,” and led the group across the street. When everyone had reached the opposite side, he arrested them all for jaywalking and put them in jail for a week. It took lots of American dollars to get them out.
And what does this have to do with Donald Trump, you ask? (And you’d be right to ask that, since, these days, everything has something to do with Donald Trump.) It’s just that the way Trump treats the press reminds me of that story.
Because he’s such a cheap bastard, he doesn’t spend his precious dollars on advertising, figuring he can get all the publicity he needs by manipulating the media to cover him for free, simply by saying something outlandishly stupid on a daily basis. So the news media, as if they have a choice, faithfully report verbatim — and often, live — on everything he says, and he then accuses them of being "crooked” and “liars”!
And technically, he’s right! If the news media passes on to the public any lie, even one that originates from Donald Trump’s mouth, then Donald Trump would be right to call them liars.
Is it a coincidence that Trump likes the way they do things in Russia, not to mention that they also seem to like him? The two could give each other lessons on how to get away with pushing people around.
But it’s actually worse than that. Here’s Fareed Zakaria, talking on CNN over the weekend with Pavel Felgenhauer, columnist for the Novaya Gazeta, a Russian newspaper, about Trump’s popularity in Russia:
Zakaria: Explain to us Russia’s love affair with Trump.
Felgenhauer: Well, I would say, primarily, Trump is popular here in Russia because Barrack Obama is deeply unpopular.
So, I mean, anyone who is attacking Obama would be seen nicely by the Russian population. Obama is seen as a person who organized the sanctions after Russia took over Crimea, and these sanctions, together with the [something] price of war, cost a very badly for the Russian population. We have a shrinking economy, falling household incomes, and everyone believes, I mean not just the Kremlin but also the masses of the people, that this is all Obama’s fault.
And Hillary Clinton is seen as a kind of surrogate, a continuation of Obama. And Trump is saying the right words, about that he is ready to maybe recognize Russian annexation of Crimea, maybe will give Russia the rest of Ukraine as a kind of dependency, as part of Russian recognized sphere of influence. So he is believed to be maybe the good guy!
You heard that right! The people of Russia apparently miss the good old days of the Cold War, in which Russia and America were like two New York crime families, divvying up territory among themselves:
Zakaria: Pavel, you talked about how Obama is unpopular because he’s been tough on Russia. But in general, is America also unpopular? My sense is that Russians have really lost any fascination that they had after the Cold War with the United States, and regard it with pretty jaundiced eyes.
Felgenhauer: Yeah, there is no love there. America is seen as the major geopolitical enemy, the big Satan that’s trying to kind of hold Russia under, not allow Russia to rise again to its normal status of super power, and so on.
Though, at the same time, America is also, to some extent, envied. And basically the Russian [something], the Russian elite, they would want to be with the United States on par, kind of working a world concert, over the heads of other nations, finding quid-pro-quos, agreeing, as they did during the Cold War, the two superpowers, working together, keeping a new world order.
So America is seen as an enemy, but at the same time, as a very important partner.
Yikes? Welcome to the post-Obama world!
And yet one more good thing about Trump becoming president, at which time we become more like Russia, is that the American media would, once and for all, suddenly stop being such notorious liars.