In the country I grew up in, no politician would have had anything nice to say about the Soviet premier, nor would they have excused their suppression of a free press. That’s not to say that we didn’t often make ourselves stupid through our refusal to see nuance and our enforcement of taboos, but that’s definitely not what is going on with the love affair between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. This morning, Trump appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and was questioned by the hosts, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.

“Well, I mean, [Putin is] also a person who kills journalists, political opponents, and invades countries. Obviously that would be a concern, would it not?” Scarborough asked.

“He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader,” Trump replied. “Unlike what we have in this country.”

“But again: He kills journalists that don’t agree with him,” Scarborough said.

The Republican presidential front-runner said there was “a lot of killing going on” around the world and then suggested that Scarborough had asked him a different question.

“I think our country does plenty of killing, also, Joe, so, you know,” Trump replied. “There’s a lot of stupidity going on in the world right now, Joe. A lot of killing going on. A lot of stupidity. And that’s the way it is. But you didn’t ask me [that] question, you asked me a different question. So that’s fine.”

Scarborough was left visibly stunned.

“I’m confused,” the MSNBC host said. “So I mean, you obviously condemn Vladimir Putin killing journalists and political opponents, right?”

“Oh sure, absolutely,” Trump said.

This isn’t your father’s political campaign, that’s for sure. I’m trying to picture Barry Goldwater basking in the warmth of Nikita Khrushchev or Leonid Brezhnev’s praise.

Yeah, that didn’t happen.

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Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at