In an interesting Facebook post, former Louisiana state senator and viral video superstar Elbert Guillory pushed back against the dominant media narrative that President Trump’s performance at the press conference following his Helsinki summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin wasn’t a good one.
My advisors have recommended that I not write about this controversy but I owe you. I write as a military veteran and political scientist who has traveled to Ukraine, the Middle East, Helsinki, USSR to study up close.
Fact 1. The world’s two greatest nuclear powers should be friendly. That is in the interest of the world!
Fact 2. Tonight the greatest criticisms come from two major groups:
A. Those who hate Trump and who will criticize the President for anything he does.
B. Those few in the military and intelligence communities who are wholly bought and owned by the war industries, for it is in their financial interests to have the US and Russia armed to the teeth and at each other’s throats.
As you listen to the shrill screamers, note how often they come from this corner (politicians included)!
Fact 3. The absolute truth is that the Obama administration interfered in the Ukraine elections which led to Russia’s predictable takeover of the area which holds Russia’s major naval base and sea outlet.
Fact 4. The Obama administration interfered in the election of Israel. Strong Nations do this when they feel that it is their interests to do so.
Fact 5. The alleged Russian interference occurred during the Obama administration, and we heard not a peep. Now these jerks want Trump to punch Putin in the nose and start a nuclear war with the other major nuclear force on Earth.
I’m a patriot and a believer in a powerful America. I have also witnessed the body bags filled with the fruit of American youth when fat old saber rattlers play soldier.
Trump was masterful in Helsinki. The Swamp Donkeys may scream but tonight the world is better off that these two men shook hands!
Is he right? Well, maybe. We would stop short of calling Trump “masterful.”
I’ve got an American Spectator column coming out on this subject, and my take is that it wasn’t one of Trump’s better moments – though Trump was put in an unfortunate box Friday by the publicity-stunt indictments of 12 Russian GRU officers as part of the Mueller probe accusing them of electoral meddling. Those indictments, made on the last working day before the summit, insured all the media questions in that press conference would be on the subject of election meddling – a subject Trump will have trouble navigating without getting at least a little wet…
So Trump is asked about the Russian meddling, the overtone of which is the Democrat Party accusation he colluded somehow with the Russians to rig the election, and he’s put in the position either to back the U.S. intelligence community which has helped to perpetuate that story and weaken his presidency or to criticize his own government in the presence of Putin – who has unmistakably acted against American interests his entire adult life – and in so doing suffer a hit to his own and his nation’s prestige.
That Trump did the latter will be the source of a great deal of wailing among the political class. It’s already begun, as figures as varied as James Comey, John Brennan, Mark Warner, Jeff Flake and Newt Gingrich have all responded to the President’s equivocations about Putin’s denial the Russians meddled in the 2016 elections by either condemning, or at least clarifying, his statements. Rand Paul, interestingly, took Trump’s side.
And in this case, the screaming does have some merit. Trump needed to find some sort of middle ground which didn’t involve throwing his Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats under the bus by saying “”My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others. They said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia. I don’t see any reason why it would be.
“I have great confidence in my intelligence people,” he said. “But I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”
That might have felt good considering the torment the Obama and NeverTrump Deep State partisans in the intelligence community have put Trump through. But it’s an unnecessary bit of damage to American prestige.
Which it is. Whether Mueller’s indictments carry sufficient proof with them to hold water or not we already know the Russians stuck their noses in the 2016 election. But that’s hardly new. The fact is Russia has been meddling in American elections – and American society – since the October Revolution of 1917. The 2016 election was merely the first time the Democrat Party didn’t support their efforts. And it’s fair to mention we’ve returned the favor as often as we could.
Where I would differ with Guillory is in his characterization of Russia as some sort of blameless actor. Russia is not. Putin is not. They’re the bad guys here, no matter how culpable the military-intelligence-Deep State complex might be in fanning the Trump-Russia Collusion flames.
That said, his basic premise is correct. The proper response to Russian electoral meddling is to have proper security and consequences in place before and during the fact, not afterward where you make the Russians a scapegoat for Hillary losing. The lesson of the Russians’ 2016 shenanigans is they’ve worked mostly due to the heightened partisan divisions in our own country the story has fanned the flames of, rather than whether anything they’ve done was particularly successful in moving any votes.
We ought to all be (1) pissed off at Putin’s impertinence in thinking he can manipulate not just our electoral process but lots of other things (take the Russian involvement in the anti-fracking and anti-pipeline movements as a good example) and demand a full accounting of it, and (2) be able to unite behind the demand for a proper response without attempting to tear ourselves apart accusing our countrymen of participating as his stooges. The unfortunate thing is we as Americans hate one another so much these days that this isn’t possible.
And that’s far more depressing than Trump’s performance in Helsinki given the position he was put in by Friday’s indictments.