Among the many vile, disgusting things about the Presidential campaign of Donald Trump is the love for autocrats expressed by the candidate and his followers. In exchange for a few words of flattery directed at the hideous hotelier, Vladimir Putin has been treated as if he were a hero rather than the preening capo he is. The thugocrat is celebrated for being “strong” when he’s actually foolishly leading his country into the past, trying to make Russia great again in a way that will never work. Sound familiar?
From his perch in southern California, Jeff Grimord knows Vladimir Putin is no saint.
A 71-year-old executive recruiter in Newport Beach, Mr Grimord acknowledges the Russian president is often accused of “nasty things”. “Journalists who criticise him are found dead. A little bit of him is still a communist at heart.” Yet despite it all, he cannot help but feel enamoured of the Russian strongman.
“I think he’s the only leader of a large, major country that stands out these days,” Mr Grimord, a supporter of Donald Trump, explained in a recent interview. “He acts like he’s acting in his country’s interest and makes no bones about it.”
Among the many curveballs of the US election, here is one more to add to the list. After years by being pilloried by western leaders, criticised by human rights groups and targeted by sanctions, Vladimir Putin has a small but sizeable fan club in certain corners of the US, particularly among voters who back Donald Trump. Perhaps more improbably, that fan club appears to be growing.•