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Is Donald Trump the American Boris Yeltsin?

"Floundering in the complexities" of leadership, Trump has proven easy to manipulate. And we're paying the price.

Is Donald Trump the American Boris Yeltsin?

“Trump may see himself as an American Putin,” writes Jelani Cobb in The New Yorker, “but Putin likely sees Trump as an American Boris Yeltsin — floundering in the complexities that surround him.” (Yeltsin photo by Shepard Sherbell/Corbis via Getty Images / Trump photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

It’s hard to please all of the people all the time. But a piece by New Yorker columnist Jelani Cobb could offer some comfort — and joy — in this dystopian era, not only to beleaguered Republicans, but to millions of Russians as well.

“Trump may see himself as an American Putin,” quoth Cobb, “but Putin likely sees Trump as an American Boris Yeltsin —
floundering in the complexities that surround him.”

For those of us who lived through Yeltsin’s eight-year reign of error and its precipitous end, on Dec. 31, 1999, the script is already in. We have only to wait until New Year’s Eve for the rerun from the White House, with a few modifications:

“Dear Americans! I have made a decision. I am leaving early, so that the US can enter a new millennium of politicians with new, smart, strong, energetic people (who have agreed not to prosecute me.) I have signed a decree placing the duties of president on Vladimir Vladomirovich Putin. Farewell, and be happy.”

And here’s the tweak: Yeltsin’s exit line to Russians was an emotional “You deserve it.” Trump’s farewell to Americans? “You deserve everything you got.”

Olivia Ward

Olivia Ward is a former foreign affairs writer for the Toronto Star. She has written about international affairs for more than 16 years, beginning as the UN correspondent, and led the Star’s Moscow and London bureaus and has reported from the former Soviet Union, South Asia and the Middle East, and on conflict zones including Chechnya, Tajikistan, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, Kosovo, Serbia, Iraq, and Israel and Palestine. Her work has been the subject of documentaries including A Child’s Century of War, the Emmy-winning The Selling of Innocents and Devil’s Bargain. She is the winner of a National Newspaper Award. Now retired from the Star, she continues to collaborate on documentary films with Shelley Saywell and her Bishari company, and writes satirical blogs.
Follow her on Twitter: @wardolivia.

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