It's not just Trump who's fond of Putin

tags: Putin, Trump

Jonathan Zimmerman teaches education and history at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of "Too Hot to Handle: A Global History of Sex Education."

In 1993, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions visited Russia as part of an American church group. Sessions was introduced to a Russian Orthodox priest, who said he had been barred from wearing his robe during the Soviet era. But with the death of communism in Russia, the priest added, he was finally free to practice his religion as he wished.

He was also free to condemn homosexuality and abortion, joining hands with American conservatives like Sessions. And that might help hold the key to understanding the growing Republican approval of Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin.

According to a Gallup poll published last month, 32% of Republicans have a favorable view of Putin. Part of that surely reflects the influence of President Trump, who has repeatedly praised Putin's "strength." In a darker vein, others have suggested that Trump is being blackmailed by the Russians or that his campaign plotted with them to influence the 2016 elections.

Such claims have stepped up amid reports of contacts between Russian operatives and aides to Trump, including Sessions. Last week, Sessions recused himself from investigations of the matter after revelations that he had met twice with the Russian ambassador before Trump assumed office. Trump shot back over the weekend in dramatic fashion, blasting ex-President Obama for allegedly wiretapping his phones.

It will be a long time before we know what really happened between Russia and Trump. But the GOP's romance with Putin started well before Trump's bromance with him. Putin is a social conservative, which makes him especially attractive to many right-wing Americans. Indeed, they see Russia as a key ally in a global struggle for so-called family values. ...

Read entire article at NY Daily News

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