Christine Todd Whitman and Trump’s 1990 Authoritarianism

In December of 2015, Christine Todd Whitman, a Republican former governor of New Jersey, said, “Frankly, if you go and look at your history and you read your history in the lead-up to the Second World War this is the kind of rhetoric that allowed Hitler to move forward, because you had people who were scared the economy was bad, they want someone to blame.”

In 1990, Donald Trump gave Christine Todd Whitman good material with which to make this judgment. In an interview with Playboy magazine, Trump declared that Mikhail Gorbachev wasn’t being firm enough. He wanted to see Gorbachev resume the old Soviet style of violent crackdown against democratic protests, saying of the situation in Russia, “I was very unimpressed. Their system is a disaster. What you will see there soon is a revolution; the signs are all there with the demonstrations and picketing. Russia is out of control and the leadership knows it. That’s my problem with Gorbachev. Not a firm enough hand… I predict he will be overthrown, because he has shown extraordinary weakness.”

Trump also applauded China’s bloody response to student protests in Tiananmen Square, telling Playboy, “When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak… as being spit on by the rest of the world.”

Does that last line sound familiar?

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