The affinity of some American conservatives for Vladimir Putin was a minor phenomenon well before Donald Trump ran for president, and for obvious reasons it’s still grist for the mill of punditry. Liberal blogger and columnist Paul Waldman delved into the topic in a Monday piece for The American Prospect.
Waldman first suggested that it’s mostly Trump who’s promoting Putinmania among GOPers, since he’s “surrounded himself with advisers friendly to the Russian government…praised Vladimir Putin again and again during the campaign, and now refuses to believe the consensus of the American intelligence community that Russia intervened in our election on his behalf. And it seems to be having an effect: According to a recent Economist/YouGov poll, the number of Republicans expressing a favorable view of Putin is now up to 37 percent, a dramatic improvement over polls taken just a few months ago.”
Then again, Waldman mused, maybe Republicans “are just now realizing that Putin is a leader after their own hearts,” especially when it comes to their mutual loathing for reporters (bolding added):
An avatar of anxious masculinity, [Putin] finds democratic constraints inconvenient, rules with an iron hand, and has a habit of having his enemies killed. Sure, there's a difference between Donald Trump railing against the "dishonest media" and Putin's disfavored journalists winding up dead with frightening regularity, but I suppose Republicans get where Putin is coming from.