Childhood taunt updated: “Vlad and The Donald sitting in a tree/K-I-S-S-I-N-G/First, comes love/ Then, comes marriage/Then, comes The Donald with a baby carriage.” The original childhood ditty morphed into the unsettling thought expressed in the version set out above. The new limerick was triggered by a disturbing mural. Across the sea in Vilnius, Lithuania, a mural is causing a disturbance in the Force. An artist named Mindaugas Bonanu painted a mural on a restaurant showing The Donald and Vladmir Putin kissing each other.
Bonanu’s inspiration for the Donald’s lip lock with Putin was a semi famous photograph from 1979 of the world’s ugliest dictator, Leonid Brezhnev kissing East Germany’s dictator, Erich Honecker. At the time this was described as a “socialist fraternal kiss” to commemorate the 30th anniversary of East Germany. This photograph went the 1979 equivalent of viral. It showed up as posters plastered to the western side of the Berlin Wall with the caption “My God, help me survive this deadly kiss.”
As we all know, The Donald and The Vladster are involved in a political bromance. Each one has issued admiring statements about the other half of their bromance. Ponder for a moment the gooey things they said about each other. Putin on The Donald: “Mr. Trump is a very bright and talented man. The absolute leader of the presidential race. ... He wants to move to a different level of relations, to more solid, deeper relations with Russia.” The Donald on Putin: “He’s got a tremendous popularity in Russia. They love what he is doing, they love what he represents ... It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.”
Being unable to rise above elementary school logic, I recall the old schoolyard taunt, “It takes one to know one.” Putin and The Donald are kindred spirits. If you like Putin’s dictatorial reign in Russia and Ukraine, you might love The Donald’s Presidency. There is a weird right wing affinity for Putin that shows up on Facebook frequently in the form of manly pictures of a shirtless Putin riding a horse bareback and President Obama riding a bicycle wearing a bike helmet. In the eyes of the far right, Putin is a macho man; Obama, a sissy man from Kenya. It appears the far right is looking for a king to make America great again by returning to the 1950s when men were men, women knew their place and black people had their own separate-but-almost-equal water fountains. You have to be careful what you wish for because sometimes you might get it.
Aesop told a fable about the frogs who wished for a king. The story might shed some light on the right’s fascination with Putin and its desire for a strongman to make America great. Once upon a time there were a family of frogs who lived in a pond. The frogs saw that humans had kings. The frogs figured that although their pond was good, that it would be even better if they had a king. They asked Zeus to send them a king. Zeus told them they really didn’t need a king but the frogs were insistent. Zeus liked the frogs and decided to indulge them by sending them a king. He dropped a log into the pond telling them the log was now their king. The log made a huge splash. The frogs were scared and hid in the bull rushes. After a while the frogs realized the log wasn’t moving. The bravest frog came out and touched the log and skittered back into the weeds. The log did nothing. The brave frog came back out and touched the log. Nothing happened. Finally the frog jumped on top of the log and the rest of the frogs soon followed. The log wasn’t much of a king.
The frogs complained to Zeus that they needed a real king. Zeus became irritated and sent a heron to the pond to be the king of the frogs. The frogs were happy at first with their new king Heron as he was a good looking bird with fine feathers. Then the Heron started eating the frogs. This hungry new king was not what the frogs expected. They pleaded with Zeus to take back the Heron. Zeus replied choices had consequences and they would have to live with the Heron as their king.
There may be a moral somewhere in this story that applies to the 2016 Presidential election. Or maybe it’s just a story about frogs.