After what the president NOW claims is their first meeting (see early campaign boasts), a lot of commentators spent a lot of time comparing how much Vladimir Putin & Donald Trump had in common ~ they came into power promising to make sweeping reforms; in every arena, they strive to have total control of the reins; and they are both famous for being rule breakers. In this last, they seem similar, with one huge & all-important different, which POTUS revealed for all the world to see at this week's G20. Putin knows the rules; DJT doesn't.
The current Dalai Lama observed, "Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively." And when it comes to business, no one can beat Donald John Trump at skating close to the edge of rules without - usually - going over. When he's gotten into trouble seems to have been when he played a l little too fast & loose.
But he is clueless in the rules, written & unwritten, of governance, foreign affairs & diplomacy. Putin breaks them with impugnity; President Trump breaks them from ignorance. As witnessed by him having Ivanka sit in for him at a round table of world leaders. It would have been a slap in the face - like the story of FDR sending his mistress to welcome the recalled Ambassador Joseph Kennedy back from England after Joe embarrassed the USA at the Court of St James - if the powerful men & women around it hadn't known that it wasn't political gamesmanship, just an example that father & daughter are well versed in properties, not political proprieties.
For weeks, I've been trying to think of why I keep feeling that Donald Trump is a mere faint copy of his mentor, the brilliantly obstructive Roy Cohn. Having his daughter, who has maybe slightly more inkling about non-business world affairs than her Dad, sit in for him was a light dawning.
No one knew the rules of law & business & human nature better than Roy Cohn, which left him able to break them with deep cunning & sure knowledge of what he was doing, what the outcome would most likely be, where his rule breaking would take him even if it flubbed. Like DJT, he took like huge risks, but with full awareness of the dangers being courting, the benefits if it went his way (which it typically did), how to make it work if things went bad.
Donald John Trump became a political phenomenon because he didn't simply break the rules - he didn't know them. That made him an irresistible magnet to the disgusted & disenfranchised. For as long as there's been politics, politicians have been promising to toss out the bums in power, to bring down the Establishment. Donald Trump was the first person running for president that they could seriously believe would trash the Beltway Establishment & not replace it with a similar version of the same. He talks exclusively in terms of detailed destruction & vague replacement because it is easy to destroy but takes knowledge will ability to replace.
Putin knows the rules, breaks them with devastating effectiveness. President Trump doesn't know the rules, doesn't show any sign of any interest in getting to know them, breaks them from ignorance. When it comes to governance, foreign affairs & diplomacy, he's not skating close to a verboten edge - he doesn't know where they are. Nor does he care, as long as he's taking his way.
And that makes DJT very very very dangerous. Even Roy Cohn would be scared.