When Donald Met Vladimir

Wednesday, July 12, 2017 - 5:30pm
John Kushma

When Donald Met Vladimir


Would make a good “buddy” movie.  They may as well have met in New York City at Katz’s Delicatessen where Harry met Sally in the film of the same name.  At least it would have been in Trump’s territory.  Notwithstanding that, Putin held all the cards.  The meeting was small and closed, the way Putin wanted it.  No transparency, minimal opportunity for leaks.  The public follow-up on what they talked about will be gauged and measured, fed and swallowed.      


Similar to Meg Ryan’s role in the movie, Trump faked the orgasm.  His standard comments were as anticipated, “good meeting”, “fantastic!”, “honor to meet Putin”, “working together”, etc., etc.  The optics of the meeting set-up were revealing.  Ceremonial discomfort, a forced and awkward handshake.  I couldn’t help from seeing puppet strings or thinking of Putin as a ventriloquist with Trump sitting on his knee.  These two star-crossed lovers have a shadowy history together and bigger than life egos.  They are not only from different sides of the world, they’re from different sides of the street.    


Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, born in 1952 in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) was a former KGB foreign intelligence officer before he became involved in politics.  He’s 64.  He served as Prime Minister for two separate terms, and president for two separate terms following Boris Yeltsin’s resignation in 1999.  He is now serving his third term as Russia’s president, which ends next year.  He has hinted he will run for an unprecedented fourth term, which would make him Russia’s longest running leader since Stalin. 


Although highly controversial and known to be a ruthless hardball politician, he is generally highly regarded in Russia.       


Putin is an ambitious street fighter who climbed his way out of the poverty in Leningrad.  He studied German in high school and speaks the language fluently.  He studied law at St. Petersburg University graduating in 1975.  He was a Lieutenant Colonel in the KGB, was married in 1983, divorced in 2014, has two daughters.  Putin’s father was in the Russian military and severely wounded in World War II, his mother was a factory worker.  His grandmother was killed by German occupiers, and his uncles were all lost at the battle of Leningrad, which is known to be one of the bloodiest battles in history.  Putin describes his parents‘ wartime experiences in an article he wrote titled, “Life is a Simple but Cruel Thing.”   


Putin is serious business, a formidable adversary. 


Donald John Trump was born in 1946 in Queens, NewYork.  He’s 71.  He has no political experience.  He entered New York Military Academy in 1964 then transferred to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania where he earned a degree in Economics.  Trump did not serve in the military due to a medical deferment.  He has managed the Trump Organization, a real estate development firm founded by his grandmother, for the past 45 years. 


Trump followed his father, Fred, into the real estate business, his mother immigrated from Scotland in 1930 to New York City, where she worked as a maid until she married Fred. 


Donald Trump, known as “The Donald” became a noted New York playboy and celebrity keeping a high profile on the night club and party circuit.  His reality television series ‘The Apprentice’ was a highly rated television show where he coined the famous Trump phrase, “You’re fired!”


Trump has been married three times and has five children.  His first two marriages ended in widely publicized divorces.


Trump is himself a highly controversial figure.  He is widely disliked by the general American public, and on the general world stage as well.  His epic and continued battles with the news media do not serve him well, and his penchant for tweeting his unedited thoughts and comments have Americans wondering if he is fit for the office.


Fundamentally, the two men couldn’t be more different.  While Trump takes the short, quarterly earnings viewpoint, Putin takes the long view.  Putin, while younger, dwarfs Trump in experience, intellect and leadership style.  Trump ballyhoos his lavish lifestyle and brags about his wealth.  He plays golf, lazily.  Putin plays his cards close to the vest and understates his wealth.  He plays hockey, aggressively.   


Trump is seemingly out of his league regarding Putin.  Some say Putin has been stalking the United States for years, and grooming Trump, an unwitting recruit.  Many think Putin has something on Trump, hanging it over his head, something personal possibly involving Russian prostitutes, perhaps something financial.  Which would explain Trump’s obfuscation regarding the election hacking issue and his public admiration for Putin, while criticizing the U.S. intelligence community, and pretty much anyone who crosses him.    


Many think Trumps is singlehandedly dismantling American credibility and democracy one brick at a time.      


The G-20 conference in Hamburg is yet another opportunity for our President Trump to ether shoot himself in the foot or put his foot in his mouth, but we can only hope for the best.  The stakes are high on all fronts and issues.             


Trump, because of his outlandish braggadocio personality and demeanor, is losing favor in the U.S. and abroad, while Putin, due to his reserved cool, is taking over as a world leader. 


I hate to say this, and don’t get me wrong, but ....I’ll have what he’s having.  



John Kushma is a communication consultant and lives in Logan, Utah.