So much Putin envy exists in conservative circles, you’d think Russia was the world’s leading superpower and that its economy was expanding rather than contracting.
We are told that Putin kicks Obama, Putin told Obama to kiss his ass, Putin clocked Obama, and that Obama is afraid of Putin. The bloggers really like sharing memes about how tough Putin looks without his shirt on. It brings to mind kind of an exaggerated version of Bush’s so-called “Texas cowboy” image that was much maligned in Europe but which conservatives liked.
Whatever one thinks of the “tough guy” swagger, though, it doesn’t help lift one’s economy out of the dumps. Russians can’t eat shirtless Putin pictures. And Putin is expanding a lot of military and political capital to get his foreign policy goals accomplished–goals which don’t directly pose large threats to America.
The rest of the world doesn’t like Putin any more than they liked Bush, either, for whatever international approval ratings are worth:
According to Pew Global Center, 43% of the public in 44 countries survey in July 2014 had negative views of Russia. By August 2015, views of Russia had plummeted to even lower than were views of America at the end of Bush’s term.
27% of Germans view Russia favorably, compared with 31% who viewed the U.S. favorably in 2008. 25% of Spanish view Russia favorably, versus 33% for Bush’s U.S. In France, those numbers are 30% to 42%; in the UK, 18% to 53%.
Even in Middle Eastern countries, perceptions of Russia have dropped almost to the level of those of the 2008 United States. Only 3 percentage points more Turkish view Russia favorably than they did the U.S. in 2008, and the views of Russia in Jordan and Lebanon actually dipped below those of the U.S. In China, while public opinion of Russia is still favorable at 51%, it has dropped by 15 points since 2014.