Even more than with most subjects, when Trump brings up Russia he seems to be speaking of something that is deﬁned less by reality than by what he needs it to be.
.. “We’re the schmucks paying for the whole thing.”) On Thursday, Trump proclaimed,
“I believe in nato,” then immediately undermined the sentiment by complaining that Europe was unfair to American farmers.
.. Another likely explanation for this performance is that the nato members were simply being subjected to the phenomenon of one bully showing off to another. “He’s a competitor,” Trump said of Putin. “Somebody was saying, Is he an enemy? Mmm, no, he’s not my enemy. Is he a friend? No, I don’t know him well enough.” Trump, by that measure, isn’t interested in anyone’s relationship with Putin except his—not Europe’s, not America’s. The policy contents of his demands were hardly relevant; his message to Putin was that he had yelled at nato.
.. Trump’s European tantrum was also, no doubt, intended for the home audience.
.. Russia, in this sense, becomes shorthand for all “those things”—the fakery and dodgy promises and money—that are just a part of the daily life of an American political candidate.
.. he said that May had “wrecked” Brexit, because “she didn’t listen to me.” He then proceeded to endorse, as a future Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, May’s freshly departed, self-indulgently destructive Foreign Secretary, largely on the ground that “he obviously likes me.” With that, and a swipe at immigration in Europe (“You are losing your culture”)