As I wrote about in a recent post, my late husband Jerry had something he called “the greater shark theory”, born out of our experience working with ethically challenged people in the financial services industry. Even the biggest bilkers of a trusting public were eventually brought down by someone who was an even bigger shark. Sooner or later, it almost always happened.
I’ve finished reading Steven Lee Myers The New Tsar, about Vladimir Putin, and I continue to be struck by how much alike Putin and Trump are: autocratic, power-hungry men who crave approval, men who surround themselves with cronies who trade the right to enrich themselves at public expense for looking the other way at their leader’s own predatory behavior, men who measure their worth by the amount of money they can amass, men who are indifferent to moral concerns or even basic human decency.
I’ve wondered idly who will be Trump’s greater shark, but I was thinking of someone on the American scene — like the Koch brothers, who are truly the billionaires and successful businessmen that Trump pretends to be. Now I think it’s going to be Putin. Putin is smarter than Trump, and more ruthless. Trump fires Tweet-storms at journalists who annoy him. Putin has them killed — like Ana Politkovskaya. Trump drops bombast and sarcasm and innuendo on political opponents, making people feel afraid and vulnerable; Putin drops real bombs on civilians in places like Aleppo and Chechnya.
If you learn more about Putin, you won’t be surprised at anything Trump does — Trump is following Putin’s playbook.
Eventually, I’m quite sure the two will clash. There’s only room for one swaggering schoolyard bully on the global scene, and it isn’t going to be Trump.