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President Donald Trump got trolled by Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 world leaders summit in Osaka. He was having so much fun joking with Vladimir, he seemed blissfully unaware.

Just before the summit, Putin gave an interview to the Financial Times in which he laid out his belief that the Western order is crumbling.

“The liberal idea has become obsolete (and) has outlived its purpose,” he said bluntly. He has made no secret of his desire to expedite the downfall of the Western order by probing its weak points, and encouraging its divisions.

Trudy Rubin mug

Trudy Rubin | The Philadelphia Inquirer

Judging by Trump’s performance in Osaka, the U.S. president seems determined to help him along.

“Don’t meddle in the election,” a smirking Trump told a smiling Putin, in front of reporters, wagging a finger at the Russian leader. (Of course, the Mueller Report found that Russia made “multiple systemic efforts” to interfere in the 2016 election).

No bother to Trump. Rather than behave firmly and correctly with the Russian leader, Trump gushed: “It’s a great honor to meet with Putin. A lot of very positive things are going to come out of the relationship.”

Contrast this with Theresa May’s meeting with Putin in Osaka. Unsmiling, she told him Russian efforts to poison former spy Sergei Skripal on British soil “can never be repeated.” Of course, Putin denied any Russian role in the poisoning. But, unlike Trump, May stood firm in the face of his lies.

The issue is much bigger than Russian meddling or assassinations, which are part of a larger pattern.

“Putin talks incessantly about the end of the old U.S.-led unipolar order that didn’t give Russia a role,” says Angela Stent, author of Putin’s World: Russia Against the West and with the Rest. “He talks about moving into the post-Western order.”

The Russian leader presents himself as the guru of a new “illiberal” governing model that allows elections but curtails or dismantles democratic institutions.

Nationalist populist leaders in Hungary, Italy, France and elsewhere are looking to Putin — Hungary’s Viktor Orban calls openly for “illiberal democracy” — while Russian propaganda encourages European voters to move in a populist direction. “He is playing the populist card and has been rather successful,” Stent says. “He is trolling (others), maybe more will jump on the bandwagon.”

But Putin has no need to encourage the populist nationalist Trump.

Trump still endorses Putin’s denials of election meddling over the findings of his own intelligence agencies, which undercuts their efforts to block future Russian meddling. This is a gift to the Kremlin that keeps on giving.

Another gift is Trump’s repeated verbal attacks on the media when he meets with autocrats. “Fake news is a great term, isn’t it,” Trump commiserated with Putin, in front of reporters. “You don’t have that problem in Russia.” Of course, the Kremlin controls nearly all TV stations and major media, and pesky Russian reporters are murdered or jailed.

In his Financial Times interview, Putin, returns the favor. He cynically promotes the mantra of populists from Trump to Brexiteers to Orban. He cites the “the gap between the interests of the elites and the overwhelming majority of the people” in Europe and America. (Never mind that any Russian opposition to the Kremlin elite is eliminated or crushed.)

And, in Trump-esque tones, Putin links the “liberal idea” to unchecked immigration, and migrants who “can kill, plunder, and rape with impunity.” He claims the “liberal idea presupposes that nothing needs to be done.”

“So the liberal idea has become obsolete. It has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population.”

Then Putin goes on to extol “traditional values,” using language similar to onetime Trump strategist Steve Bannon.

The Russian leader insists that “traditional values” such as religion “are more stable and more important for millions of people than this liberal idea, which, in my opinion, is really ceasing to exist.” Never mind that Putin presides over a regime rife with corruption, willing to murder opponents, and disdainful of moral values.

Stent says that Putin’s talk of immigration has to do with “reinforcing people questioning their own system. He is certainly speaking to those parts of European Union who are pro-Russian, saying we Russians are going in the right direction.”

But Putin is also playing the American card. Now that the Mueller Report is passe, he may feel more free to engage with Trump on themes that appeal to Trump’s thinking and draw the U.S. president even closer.

And Trump, at the G-20, gravitated toward this autocrat who curbs courts, voters and press in a way that the president may wish he could or aspires to do by different methods, such as Supreme Court decisions. All Putin had to do was grin.

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Trudy Rubin is a columnist and editorial-board member for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Readers may email at trubin@phillynews.com.

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(44) comments

random annoying bozo

since unfettered democracy ultimately leads to 'mob rule'.....what I see the left doing now, especially the fascist antifa, is trying to instill liberal mob rule.

oldhomey

We have had more than two centuries of history of democracies running nations around the world, bozo. Perhaps you could give the rest of us a history lesson in which it has been shown that unfettered democracy ultimately leads to mob rule.

martian2

and there you have it, bozo zany and crazy comment against democracy. Nope can't have that now can we bozo, way too many liberals in the country. Minority rule is the game, as long as the minority is the GOP. Yes perfect sense, a great way to run a country's elections. Superb way to choose leaders, by subverting the will of the majority. Thank you bozo for clearing that all up.

random annoying bozo

and exactly who decides what is "subverting the will" of the majority? the mob?? thank you for making my point for me.

martian2

trying to decipher your 5:59 post bozo is challenging. You talk about the "mob", is that code for mafia? Or is it just a group of people of any size greater than ten let's say? Simply put, subverting the will of the people means not allowing the majority to elect politicians, and it means gerrymandering districts so politicians can choose voters instead of the other way around. Is that simple enough for ya? You don't want real democracy, you want minority rule run by a dictator.

oldhomey

Are you ignoring my 2:31pm post, bozo? Are you ducking it? I would say don't be such a bozo, but that's what you call yourself. The shoe fits and you are wearing it.

Rick Czeczok

All the bobble heads are going up and down, yup. yup, yup. Sucked right in by another fake news reporter stirring the hornets nest. Fools....

Jobaba

Yes, we can read.

oldhomey

This is one of the most pertinent columns so far this year, outlining the extreme danger Trump has put us into. The Democrats should make a full one minute campaign add out of Trump's Helsinki encounter with Putin and this latest one in Japan. Putin has embedded his hook so deeply into Trump's mouth that the orange fish simply cannot shake himself loose anymore.

Rick Czeczok

Most all these problems were brought on by the poor policies of the last standing, so called president. Did anyone tell you Hillbilly lost yet. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

oldhomey

May I add that I meant "ad", not "add"? I shall offer no additional information on this error at this time, but my typos add up ad nauseam.

capedcrusader

I think it's time to ignore our resident joker troll. What say you?

oldhomey

I have ignored him since he first appeared, if ignoring him means not taking a thing he says seriously. But he is so inane, it is good sport in pointing out his inanities. I have noticed that when other posters nail him on his mistakes, he suddenly goes silent. But the man seems to have no capacity to learn from his mistakes, and he is back on the next day doing the same things he was caught doing the day before.

DMoney

Reported the comment made wishing for the murder of another commenter. Comment not deleted. Absolutely unacceptable. I expect universal denouncement of this comment of johnnybragatti. Saying it crosses a line is the ultimate understatement.

Jobaba

How little the typical conservative understands about all this. It is to the point that perhaps education can no longer save us and we will be trampled by ignorance and the uneducated "demanding their rights" to control others.

martian2

conservatives could give two sheets about democracy. they prefer dictators and oligarchs to be in charge. Like Trump they are in love with Putin and NK leader kim. Hard to understand but I think Jobaba is right, the ignorant right wants to trample our rights and surrender to the state, the state of stupidity.

DMoney

Tell us about black people next.

oldhomey

You have been making some very strange remarks and responses lately, D, and this ranks as one of the strangest. I have no idea how you tie it into what martian or Jo said. As for your other 11:17am remark, it appears that Trump is holding Putin so closely that they are in bed together. This is the many we elected to lead the free world?

martian2

this is par for the course for the right wingers there homey. They can't counter argue with any intelligence so they revert to the bizarre, the totally weird off the wall comments. Stuff that makes no sense, but doesn't have to, Trump is the man no matter what. Their fanaticism has so engulfed their minds they can't think normally any more.

oldhomey

Of the many typos I am guilty of, "many" for "man" is one of them.

capedcrusader

Why, are you another racist Republican?

capedcrusader

oldhomey - you mean like this one? DMoney Jul 2, 2019 8:19pm There's no "might " about it. Thousands of American citizens have been murdered by people who have no legal right to be here. It's happening right now.

DMoney

I want to see what Martian thinks about other mass groups of people. If you are going to make mass prejudicial statements, then it doesn't just stop with one group. You must have opinions on all groups. So let's start with black people, and what Martian thinks about them. Then we'll do millennials and then gays.

DMoney

Caped getting in on the stereotyping action. It's a feeding frenzy! Let those prejudices flow.

oldhomey

At the risk of showing my own fearsome obliviousness, D, I saw no indications of martian or caped displaying any racist implications here against blacks or others. You, on the other hand, while being smart enough not to come right out and make bald-faced racist comments, are a master of coded language that telegraphs your racist and anti-gay proclivities.

martian2

here I am D. I was talking about a political group in my 8:45 post. Got that, political. I was not talking about racial or ethnic groups or religious or sexual orientation groups. Politics and political parties are suppose to be debated, hashed out, dissected, analyzed in a healthy democracy. Maybe you believe in dictatorial rule like Putin has instituted. but this is America pal, and we believe in democracy and equality of all voters, not equality of political parties. Enjoy the Trump's fourth of July parade with the military toys mixed in it now. Hope you are ready to kick in more to help pay to satisfy Trump's parade wishes. If he wanted to see Tanks and planes he should of joined the military instead of wimping out with the bone spurs excuse. Touche, another home run by me. (patting myself on the back)

DMoney

Martian labelled all conservatives and those on the right. Read it again. Either someone is prejudicial and discriminative, or they aren't. If they are, which Martian is, it doesn't stop with just conservatives. He has a pre-canned and ignorant view of ALL groups of people. So let's see what he thinks about these other groups. Go.

DMoney

What an oxymoron. I'm "smart enough" to encode and encrypt my racism and homophobia, which are by definition, characteristics of someone who is not smart. Hmmm. Wouldn't it just be easier for me to be openly racist and homophobic if I was dumb enough to feel that way?

DMoney

Also, what is deceptive and misleading about my open and repeated declaration that I support gay marriage, gay partners adopting children, and zero tolerance towards workplace discrimination towards gays? Can I be any more straightforward than that?

martian2

oh poor D, when I talk about the right wingers, I am talking about those hard core Trump supporters like yourself. Yes there are right wing people who are for real democracy in this country, who are not fascist, who are not discriminator. But the fact is they are few and far between, especially on these pages. The hard core Trump supporters are not above criticism, not should they be treated with kid gloves. This is politics you idiot, not a race of humans I am talking about. You can't, make blanket statements about race, or sex, or religions, or nationality. You can but you look pretty stupid doing so., like you do with calling people illegals and say you simply don't care. Politics and political parties are fair game and should be brought up often. Your post about twisting what I say about politics and turn it into a discussion on race is about as phony as it gets. Now how about that source where thousands are killed by those illegals huh D?

oldhomey

D, Trump bloviates often about how he is the smartest, least racist most accepting president in U.S. history. I believe you and your protestations of being supportive of blacks, Hispanics and gays like I believe our president.

DMoney

Except, you have no idea who I am, what I do, what I've done. You have nothing to judge me on other than what I say on here, and therefore, no proof to the contrary. Not even subjective proof like you believe with Trump. As I've said nothing racist, homophobic, or prejudicial against ANY group of people (not even Democrats and liberals) you have zero basis to judge my racism or homophobia other than your own biases against people who are conservatives.

oldhomey

That is exactly right, D. I don't know you or what you do or have done in life beyond what you say and reveal about yourself on these comment boards. And what you say and reveal is upon which I base my comments on you. Nothing more, nothing less.

martian2

oh yea D nothing racist you say. Calling those south of the border trying to get asylum status"illegals" or murderers is racists. Classifying them as illegals when it is illegal to come seek asylum is racist. You obviously believe like Trump and don't want certain people from sh*thold countries as he put it. They are migrants seeking asylum, many turning themselves into the border guard to legally gain asylum status. They are humans, most all are Christian, desperately poor and in danger. You would think you could muster up a little empathy, after all Christ himself was once a migrant.

martian2

." Classifying them as illegals when it is illegal to come" should of read : classifying them as illegals when it is legal to come.....

oldhomey

D, are you seriously proposing that there are no racist or anti-gay people who are smart? I realize that I am a pretty low hurdle to clear if you are looking for truly intelligent people, but I think there are extraordinarily smart racists and anti-gay people in this world, which is one of the reasons why those blots on humanity are so difficult to erase. But I guess somebody with a superior intellect such as your own, you would find my position to be ludicrous, because you are smarter than just about anybody. I should be more careful with whom I engage in debate. Silly me.

DMoney

Are there some? Sure. There are always outliers. Are you suggesting that racism and prejudice are not characteristics of someone with low intelligence? They are both forms of ignorance, which, almost literally means stupidity.

DMoney

"Hold your friends close, and hold your enemies closer".

capedcrusader

BS. Were damm lucky Osama bin Laden is dead or Trump would be making friends with him too. No wonder that idiot has a hard time getting a Secretary of Defense.

DMoney

Bin Laden was not a head of state.

oldhomey

Well, D, you know the old adage, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." Since Trump is at odds with our state department and our military, not to mention with all our closest traditional allies that we rely on for making a united stand against aggression, I suppose it could be conceivable that bin Laden, who hated our state department, military and allies, could have been "friended" by our fact- and ethics-challenged ignoramus of a president.

martian2

Bin Laden was head of a vast terrorist group wanting to wreak havoc on the world to suit his vision of what it should be. Gosh sounds a like Nk leader Kim, or Russian leader Putin. Not really a lot of difference between the three.

johnnybragatti

"Lotta love and positive things are coming out of their relationship" and it will cost America dearly. G20 was not a "meeting of the minds", for world leaders,....but more like a sleepover for trump and Putin..trump doesn"t even know why he was there.

Rick Czeczok

This is your brain on drugs. Living in mommy's basement.

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