A couple of days ago, Daniel Drezner wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post commenting on a statement made by one of the candidates in the recent televised forum on national security.
I mean, the man has very strong control over a country. And that’s a very different system and I don’t happen to like the system. But certainly in that system he’s been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader. We have a divided country.
As my Post colleague David Weigel notes, this is simply Trump’s latest slathering of praise onto the Russian strongman:
Trump goes further than many Republicans. In his telling, Putin — a “strong leader” — epitomizes how any serious president should position his country in the world. Knowingly or not, Trump builds on years of wistful, sometimes ironic praise of Putin as a swaggering, bare-chested autocrat.
After the forum, his running mate, Mike Pence, who used to be more critical of Putin, doubled down on Trump’s claim:
Pence walked that line back a little Sunday, suggesting that he was trying to indict the “weak and feckless leadership” of President Obama — but you get the point.
Well, if we are going to compare the leadership of Putin and Obama, why not compare them by measuring what people really care about? After all, don’t we all know that “it’s the economy, stupid.”
So let’s see how what Putin’s leadership has done for Russia compares with what Obama’s leadership has done for the US? We all know that the last eight years under Obama have not been the greatest, but if it’s Putin that Obama is being compared to, we ought to check out how Putin’s “very strong” leadership has worked out for the Russian economy as opposed to Obama’s “weak and feckless leadership” has worked out for the US economy.
Here’s a little graph comparing US and Russian GDP between 2008 and 2015. To make the comparison on an even playing field, I have normalized GDP for both countries at 1.0 in 2008.
Looks to me like Obama wins that leadership contest pretty handily. And it’s not getting any better for Putin in 2016, as the Russian economy continues to contract, while the US economy continues to expand, albeit slowly, in 2016.
So chalk one up for the home team.