This blog should come with a warning label. Usually, I base my blogs on extensive research, and try to present mostly facts with a modicum of opinion. This blog will be mostly opinion, so some readers may not like it. Of course, as always, I welcome comments and opinions. I don’t care if you agree with me or not. The most important thing for me is for you to read the blog. That said, I encourage you to read on.
The Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki this week was memorable in more ways than one. According to Mr. Trump the two discussed many significant issues, such as Syria, Iran, terrorism, the Ukraine, and the Crimea. As I write this, we do not know the details of their discussion with respect to the above issues as much of it was held in private. It was their first summit, and I would hope that the two men found some common ground and at least formed a basis for further meetings.
I think most of us would agree that relations between the US and Russia have been very strained recently, due to these and other issues, notably Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. In fact, in the opinion of Professor Stephen Cohen, Professor Emeritus of Russian Studies at NYU, they are as strained now as they have been at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. If you know your history, you will realize that that is a very serious statement. At the time, the public was unaware of the full gravity of the situation, but we now know that on that occasion we were very close to nuclear war.
Since the two nations control some 90% of all nuclear weapons, it is essential that they develop a basis for talking instead of fighting. As I have said many times, most recently regarding Mr. Trump’s summit with Kim, I favor talking to one’s enemies as well as one’s friends. I think most people would agree that talking is preferable to fighting. No one dies when you talk; they die when you stop talking and start fighting.
Unfortunately, this summit may be remembered for what was not said, rather than what was said. Of course, I am referring to the Russian 2016 election meddling issue. Mr. Trump later told reporters he mentioned it, Mr. Putin strongly denied it, and he accepted Mr. Putin’s denial. Many people are distressed that Mr. Trump did not press the issue and seemed to take Putin’s word over that of his own intelligence agencies (although Mr. Trump subsequently walked that back). They wanted him to berate Mr. Putin, virtually call him a liar, and let him know in no uncertain terms that we know he did it and don’t dare do it again, or words to that effect.
Certainly, one could argue that he should have been more forceful on that issue. That would have made most of us feel good for a brief moment. We would have said to ourselves something like “yeah, way to go, take it to him!” But, I ask you, what would that really have accomplished? Putin knows he did it, he also knows that we know he did it. Do you expect that Putin would have said, “oops, you got me. I’m really sorry. I won’t do it again.” No, Putin would likely have taken umbrage at the assertion. He would have continued to deny, deny, deny.
If Mr. Trump had persisted, Putin may have even walked out of the meeting, in which case nothing would have been accomplished. All those other issues I mentioned above, as well as whatever else they discussed would have continued to fester. The long-term, more significant objectives of the summit, to build a working relationship, would have been a failure.
Moreover, it would not have changed the fact that Russia meddled, and it will continue to meddle, prospectively. Let’s not be naïve. As Senator Rand Paul said in a recent Politico article, “everyone does it.” Off the top of my head, I can think of several instances in which the US has meddled in another country’s elections and other internal affairs – South Vietnam in the 1960s, Chile regarding the election of Salvador Allende in 1970, and Israel’s last election when President Obama tried to undermine Netanyahu’s candidacy. Moreover, for over a century the US meddled in most every South and Central American country’s affairs. Remember the Monroe Doctrine? We considered the Western Hemisphere to be our private preserve and earned the enmity of many of our Latin American neighbors.
After two years of intense investigation, all evidence indicates that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, but recognize the difference between “meddling” and “hacking.” We have yet to see any evidence that Russian meddling changed ONE SINGLE VOTE. Get over it, and move on with your lives. Mr. Trump won fair and square. He is the President, and he will continue to be at least until January, 2021, if not beyond. History tells us that on election night voters will not focus on whether or not Trump “dressed down” Putin at the summit. They will focus on the economy, and right now, it is BOOMING.
There are many more important issues, such as feeding your family, medical care, immigration, and thwarting terrorism. Instead of being stuck in the past we should be focusing on how to prevent anyone from meddling in the 2018 and 2020 elections. (I would suggest that one corrective action would be to enforce the law precluding government officials from using private email servers. Another would be to require passwords more secure than “password.” Probably, a 10 year-old could have hacked the DNC.)
It is one thing to express disagreement with Mr. Trump’s, or any politician’s policy decisions. After all, the right to do so is a cornerstone of our republic. It is a legitimate complaint that Mr. Trump should have been more forceful. As I said, that would have had consequences, but I can understand the sentiment. But, that does NOT make him a “traitor, an “imbecile,” or Putin’s “puppet,” as many have been saying.
What I cannot abide and what caused me to write this particular blog, was the vituperative and disrespectful tone of much of the criticism toward Mr. Trump. We all know that 90% of the media, most politicians and “swamp dwellers,” and half of the voters hate him with a passion that exceeds all reason. They will criticize anything he does or says. Some will even hope for bad outcomes, even of they hurt the country, just to prevent Mr. Trump from looking good. But, some of the criticisms I have been reading exceed all decency, decorum, and reason. For example:
- Former CIA Director, John Brennan, one of the architects of the sell-out Iran Nuke Deal, labeled Mr. Trump’s words “imbecilic” and “nothing short of treasonous.”
- Senator John McCain said Mr. Trump’s performance was “a conscious choice to defend a tyrant” and “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”
- Newsday called Mr. Trump’s performance “an extraordinary embrace of a longtime US enemy,” and surmised that he made it obvious that “any firm acknowledgment of Russia’s [meddling] would undermine the legitimacy of his election.”
- Scores of political pundits weighed in with similar comments, but, to me, most of these people lost their objectivity and credibility long ago, so I find it hard to take their analyses seriously now. I view them as so much “white noise” and see no need to waste time and space by repeating them here.
- The worst, by far, came from the formerly venerable New York Times. The Times used to be one of, if not the, most respected newspapers in the country. But, in recent years, it has essentially become a shill for the far left. The latest example is the video cartoon it published depicting Messrs. Trump and Putin as homosexual lovers. Any decent person should find it disgusting. It was the stuff of the most prurient tabloid. I have no adequate words to describe how far beyond the pall of decency it was.
This is what we have come to in this country, where the president of the US can be ridiculed and attacked in this manner. Have we lost all reason? Disagree with his policies? Okay. But, at least do so in a mature, decent and reasonable manner. I shudder to think of what might be next.