When Trump and his acolytes accuse protestors of being well-organized, paid saboteurs, I hear echoes of Kremlin television accusing people who came out in Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square to protest for democracy in 2011 of working for the U.S. State Department. When Trump lies and injects conspirological plots into the mainstream, when I hear his supporters echo them back to me as gospel because “it’s on the Internet,” I feel like I’m back in Russia, listening to people tell me about George Soros and his nefarious plots. And then I hear about George Soros from Trump supporters who tell me that he has both created the Black Lives Matter movement and hacked American voting machines.American conservatives were accusing black civil rights protestors and white anti-war opponents of being paid agents of the commies back when I was a lad in the 1960s, so there's nothing particularly Russian about that. As for Soros, he may be a Putin bogeyman, but American right-wingers were portraying him as evil long before Putin wannabe Donald Trump became the GOP presidential nominee. Here's Lowell Ponte of FrontPage Magazine in 2003:
UNDER OUR CONSTITUTION HE CAN NEVER BE PRESIDENT, but if any Democrat gets elected President in 2004 it will be because this foreign-born billionaire kingmaker, George Soros, pledged to raise $75 million to defeat incumbent Republican President George W. Bush.Here's Tony Blankley of The Washington Times describing Soros as "a robber baron" and "a Jew who figured out a way to survive the Holocaust" on Sean Hannity's Fox show in 2004. Here's then-House Speaker Dennis Hastert in 2006 blaming Soros for the Mark Foley sex scandal.
“George Soros has purchased the Democratic Party,” said Republican National Committee spokeswoman Christine Iverson.
Since he who pays the piper calls the tune, what tune will this international financier demand from the party and President his millions purchased? What hidden agendas and interests, domestic and foreign, might be served?
Can any American trust a Democratic Party whose strings are pulled by this controversial Radical Left-inclined puppet-master?
Ioffe's larger point is that Trump is destroying what he can't control, a la Putin:
Now, with the repetition of a single word -- rigged, rigged, rigged -- and with the help of a few targeted Russian hacks of voter logs in Arizona and voting machines in Florida, Trump is trying his hand at another Putin trick: if you can’t inherit the land, sow it with salt.But Republicans were doing that long before Trump threw his hat into the ring. It's essentially what they've been doing for eight years in response to Barack Obama's election and reelection: If they can't control the federal government, they'll destroy its ability to legislate, or to function in any other way. We know they're going to try to continue doing this in Hillary Clinton's presidency. It's an approach they developed and refined long before Trump thought about a move into politics.
We saw it in Ukraine and Georgia, who aspired to wrench themselves out of Russia’s orbit and become part of the West. Putin likely understands he’s lost these former vassals for a long time to come, but he invaded both and created territorial disputes on their land so that, even if they wanted to join an organization like NATO, they simply couldn’t because of NATO’s own rules.
Trump sees what we see no matter how many unscientific post-debate polls he tweets out: the chances of him winning this election and inheriting the land are dwindling by the day. And so he is trying to toss as many handfuls of salt onto it as he can, to ruin as much of it as he can, because if he can’t have it, no one can.
So either these ideas aren't uniquely Putinesque ... or the GOP has been modeling itself after Putin for a lot longer than Trump's been on the scene. My guess is the former.