President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin offer a joint press conference after the formal summit between the two leaders held at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland. EFE

Is President Trump more bark than bite?

Oh no, president Trump is really tough, really brave, really strong — with immigrant children. With Vladimir Putin, well, not so much.


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With the Russian strongman he becomes a cheap bobblehead, whose neck is surely sore of so much nodding in agreement – and with such gusto. Yet, who knows, maybe bullying and abusing poor and defenseless people in his own country, while abjectly kowtowing to powerful foreign leaders is what the current president of the United States believes will make America great again.

Perhaps “Making Russia Great Again” would be a more appropriate battle cry for Trump and the strange gang of weird white supremacists, greedy millionaires, crusty old retired generals, and despicable racists he has surrounded himself with.

Remember when candidate Trump said the country would get tired of so much winning? Well, not even Fox News, his unofficial propaganda machine, believes it anymore.

As fellow columnist Rubén Rosario put it Monday: “Hell froze and pigs flew today — Fox News headline disses Trump: ‘Putin eats Trump's lunch in Helsinki — This is no way to win against Russia.’”

In fairness, it’s possible Trump wasn’t trying to “win” against Russia, but to become best pals with Putin, whom he seems to regard as a mentor and a model. After all, Trump, for whom lying and insulting is as natural as breathing, has never uttered a negative word about the Russian strongman. Love conquers all, it seems, even loyalty to country.

Of course, whoever believes Trump’s humiliating – none dare call it treason – performance in Helsinki will provoke outraged Republican politicians to resign en masse in protest or some such principled move, is thinking of “pregnant little birds,” as Puerto Ricans are fond of saying.

Expect some seemingly outraged words, but not much more: “Just saw the most depressing, disgusting, toadying, weak, moronic, lie-stuffed, and damn near traitorous public hour in the long history of the American Presidency. A dark day,” tweeted Republican strategist Mike Murphy.

The Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, a gelatinous master of the empty phrase, also expressed feelings of outrage (??) on Monday: “The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally.”

The situation is so bad for what Republicans themselves constantly proclaim to be their duty and their hopes for the country, that it obviously calls for much more than words. What are they going to do, what action are they going to take to curb Trump’s disastrous behavior both nationally and internationally? Will they withdraw their support for a Trump second term? Will they protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation? Will some of them resign in protest? Will Democrats finally show a modicum of courage to go along with their rhetoric? Will any of them, of either party, put people above money and power?

Don’t hold your breath. In this day and age patriots are in short supply.

Cowardice, self-interest, and bigotry are bipartisan traits, it’s just a matter of degrees. More than ever in the era of Trump, Washington is populated by people who talk a good game but lack the principles and the courage to put their money where their mouth is.

A warning: No matter how disgusted you are by the president and his merciless war on immigrants, women and the poor, or how worried you feel about his inexplicable subservience to Putin, Trump is not going anywhere any time soon.

So, don’t even think of staying home on November 6.


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