Donald Trump has been praised and criticized for sharing his admiration for Putin's strong leadership. Paul Krugman offers his explanation for Trump's admiration of Putin and some of the reactions to Trump's praise. Trump defends his praise of Putin's leadership by pointing to his high approval ratings in Russia. Putin's aggressive foreign policies have popular in Russia. On the other hand, Krugman argues that Putin has not done much to expand Russia's economy, which is tied closely to the price of oil and other commodities that Russia exports to the rest of the world. Krugman is also critical of the concentration of wealth and political power in Russia. Putin is not subject to the constraints that would limit his power in most democracies. Krugman argues that Trump, and many of his supporters, would like to have the kind of power that protects the concentration of wealth and power that is limited by democratic forces. Some may even believe Trump could "Make America Great Again" if he were elected as our president. They may prefer a less democratic state if power were concentrated in a leader who shared their values and made the tough changes that they desire.
Trump's admiration for Putin's leadership has been criticized by Democrats and many Republicans in the US. Putin does not have the favorability ratings in the US that he has in Russia. However, there is one theme that is popular among Republicans. They have portrayed President Obama as a weak foreign policy leader while they deplore his use of presidential power to achieve domestic goals which they do not share. Many Republicans argue that Putin has been a stronger international leader than President Obama. In other words, Putin is either a good guy or a bad guy which is entirely dependent upon the context. Good versus Obama. Bad when he is connected to popular views about communist Russia which still exist in the US.