Vladimir Putin Calls Donald Trump Brilliant, Flamboyant, Lively, Colorful, Outstanding….Um, What?

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The opening line of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Notes from the Underground is “I am a sick man…a spiteful man.” Or is it? I once read a fascinating introduction to Dostoyevsky’s famous novella that began by collecting a dozen different translations of that line, all of them suggesting a slightly different meaning. So what did Dostoyevsky really mean? It may be impossible to say for sure in English.

That’s how I feel today, reading the news that Vladimir Putin praised Donald Trump at a news conference. Here are eight different translations of Putin’s remarks:

He is a brilliant and talented person without a doubt…

He is a very outstanding person, talented, without any doubt…

He is a very bright person, talented without any doubt…

He’s a very colorful person. Talented, without any doubt…

He is a standout, talented person, without any doubt

He is a bright personality, a talented person, no doubt about it…

He is a very flamboyant man, very talented, no doubt about that…

He’s a very lively man, talented without doubt…

Needless to say, these are very different things. “Outstanding” suggests that Putin thinks well of Trump. “Bright” suggests a more neutral assessment. And “flamboyant” and “lively” suggest that he thinks Trump is a blowhard.

So what did Putin really say? Beats me. But video of his remarks is above for anyone who wants to provide a deeper analysis of Putin’s word choice and what it really means in Russian.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

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Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

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