In the aftermath of the Putin summit I'm struck by the report in The Washington Post yesterday that President Trump was gobsmacked by the criticism:
Delighted with his own performance, he stepped offstage after his freewheeling, 46-minute news conference alongside Putin — in which he seemed to accept Putin’s denial of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election campaign over the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies. The president felt he had shown strength, an impression buoyed by two friendly interviews he did with Fox News Channel personalities before boarding Air Force One to return home from the Nordic capital.
But roughly an hour into the flight, Trump’s mood darkened and grim reality set in as he consumed almost universally negative cable news coverage and aides began reviewing pages upon pages of printed-out statements from fellow Republicans lambasting the president....
Trump himself was flummoxed.... He ... was furious with the negative media coverage of a summit that he felt had been a clear success....
On Tuesday morning, Trump told friends he did not understand what the big fuss was about.
We can talk all we want about quid pro quos and kompromat, and we should, but this report confirms what I've suspected for a while now: that Trump expects his doting on Putin to be popular. There are, of course, quite a few reasons why Trump wants a second meeting with Putin before the midterms (and obviously there are many reasons why Putin would want one), but we mustn't overlook the fact that Trump wants to do this again because he expects excellent press coverage and wide popular acclaim. He's being a statesman! He's lessening global tensions! It's Nixon going to China in '72! Of course it will help the GOP in November!
Trump may be a blackmail victim, but he doesn't appear to be an anxious one; he doesn't seem to be planning these meetings like a poor schlub trying to scrape up the week's payment before the thumb-breaker arrives to collect. Trump is into it. After all these years, Trump has Stockholm syndrome. He's not just indebted to Putin, he's sincerely pro- Putin.
Trump and his family have been dealing with the Russians for so long, and he has such confidence in his detail-free style of diplomacy, that he believes magic will happen as a result of the meetings. And he can't believe that we don't see the same thing.
Crossposted from No More Mister Nice Blog