Vladimir Putin may be many things, but the man is not a wimp. This is a guy with whom George W. Bush famously had a wrestling match. He's a guy who actually blows ISIS installations sky-high. He's a guy who actively pursues territorial ambitions. He's straightforward and unapologetic.
Meanwhile, we've had Barack Obama, who has none of the positive qualities of Putin. Granted, Putin is a dictator who represses freedom of expression. Then again, the same could be said of President Obama. After all, he has infamously decreed that he will pursue his agenda whether Congress passes it or not. Very undemocratic for a Democrat, I must say.
Republicans, meanwhile, are split between to candidates with very distinct personal styles. On one hand we have Ben Carson, a genius who is soft-spoken but direct and unapologetic in his views, much in the vein of Ronald Reagan. He is the literal incarnation of "Speak softly but carry a big stick." His domestic agenda would reshape the economy in a profound way, not radically but more in a reactionary fashion. Taxes would be set at a flat 10% for all Americans, a tithe. Obamacare would be repealed in favor of an HSA-based model that puts more purchasing power in the hands of health care consumers. Marriage would be restored to its historic definition as a union between a man and a woman. Internationally he would defend America's interests in an unapologetic manner.
Donald Trump is just the opposite. He is loud and brash and often sticks his foot in his mouth. He rarely if ever apologizes for these gaffes, however, choosing instead to attack anyone who points them out. His domestic agenda is conservative with regard to foreign policy, but on other fronts he can seem somewhat liberal at times. His tax plan is to raise the percentage of taxes the middle class and moderately wealthy pay and to reduce or remove taxes from both the lower class and the über-rich. He would surely defend American interests abroad, but might also alienate key allies by attacking them unnecessarily. The traits that most attract people to him can also make him appear unpresidential.
We want a Putin, someone who is an unapologetic nationalist. We want someone who will boldly defend our interests at home and abroad. That is why Trump's candidacy has some real clout; whether his domestic policy is sound or not, there is no doubt that the man loves America and will do his best to promote our interests. With Russia's economy in the toilet, Russians still love Putin for the same reason--he's a proud Russian, whether or not his domestic policies are working.
Personally, I favor Ben Carson. My only fear is the "Romney factor," that perhaps the man is too soft-spoken and nice to debate as forcefully as necessary to win. Trump will go for the jugular, not afraid of the personal attack. I'm hoping Carson will be just as forceful in his quiet-yet-powerful way. Trump is clever. Carson is wise. The question is, can a wise man win the presidency? I guess we'll find out.