Sunday, August 7, 2016

Some Days the Bear Eats You

There’s no accounting for taste, especially in humor.

For instance, the 1966 film The Russians Are Coming! the Russians Are Coming! is, to me, a classic. And I think Donald Trump’s recent sarcasm — “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing” — was funny.

And surprisingly appropriate to the situation.

Did the Russians give WikiLeaks the hacked DNC emails? We don’t know.

Did the Russians, Chinese and Iranians all hack Hillary’s vulnerable private server, gaining classified material? Probably.

Was Trump malevolently, traitorously standing in the middle of Fifth Avenue inviting a foreign adversary to criminally cyber-attack his political opponent, as his sarcastic remark was hyped? No.

Still, I’m not at all copasetic with Trump’s apparent buddy-fest with the President of the Russian Federation — and thug — Vladimir Putin. Anyone paying attention knows the dark forces at work in Putin’s Russia, with a state-dominated press, a lethal hostility to any journalists speaking out of turn and an electoral system where political opponents risk prison. Yet, Trump seems drawn to the authoritarians, if not authoritarianism, having been seemingly more impressed than disgusted by the Chinese government’s bloody 1989 crackdown on students occupying Tiananmen Square.

Mr. Trump, however, is hardly the first American politician to act the fool before Vladimir Putin.
 
Republican President George W. Bush bizarrely claimed to have looked into Putin’s soul. It was apparently cloudy that day.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton jetted over to the Kremlin with that silly “Reset” button. As if that wasn’t small-minded enough, Clinton’s crack State Department misspelled the Russian word for “reset” so that next to the red button it instead read “overcharged.”

Nonetheless, friendly Russian interests have repeatedly found ways to be financially generous to the Clintons.

Was it a kind-hearted Russia that stepped in and bailed out President Obama (and in the process, Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad), after Syria crossed Obama’s apparently evanescent red line on chemical weapons use? And you’ll no doubt recall that open microphone, which caught Obama telling outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to let the incoming Mr. Putin know, “After my election, I have more flexibility.”

That’s the Great O’s idea of a tough negotiating position.

Poor President Putin must be mystified as to how his Soviet forebears could have possibly lost the Cold War to a country led by such ninnies.

Running for president back in 2012, Republican Mitt Romney was not so generous or naïve, calling Russia our “number one geopolitical foe.” But Mitt’s statement was ridiculed by Obama and mocked in the media.

“The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back,” scoffed a contemptuous Obama.

“Ugh! I don’t know what decade this guy is living in!” echoed MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. Romney’s concerns about Russia were “indefensible,” asserted University of Georgia journalism professor Cynthia Tucker. “It made Romney look dumb. He’s not a dumb man, but he said something that was clearly dumb.”

Russia was, in fact, “an ally” then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explained, calling Romney’s viewpoint “dated.” The GOP standard-bearer had uttered a “preposterous notion,” according to then-U.S. Senator and now Secretary of State John Kerry.

At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Kerry superciliously slammed Mitt, declaring to cheering Democrats: “Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from Alaska, Mitt Romney talks like he’s only seen Russia by watching Rocky IV.”

What a witty fellow.

Of course, since all those pretty pronouncements were uttered, Russia has annexed Crimea, made war in eastern Ukraine and even occasionally bombed U.S. forces in Syria.

The Baltic nations — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — border the Russian Federation and contain significant Russian minorities, as does Ukraine. No wonder they feel similarly threatened. Nervous folks in Poland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe still have searing memories of Soviet domination.

The United States of America has pledged to militarily defend these tiny Baltic countries and much of the rest of Europe from Russian aggression. Is the U.S., and NATO for that matter, actually prepared? No. A February article in Foreign Policy was headlined, “If Russia Started a War in the Baltics, NATO Would Lose — Quickly.”

Should American boys and girls continue to be responsible for defending Europe?

Forever?

These are questions worth discussing this campaign.

With or without sarcasm.

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