“Vladimir Putin has a plan for destroying the West—and that plan looks a lot like Donald Trump.”
Slate’s Franklin Foer (former editor of The New Republic) has been all over the whole Trump-Putin/Putin-Trump ticket (and you thought Mike Pence was his running mate).
Today Foer published a piece titled, “The DNC Hack Is Watergate, but Worse.” He wrote,
To help win an election, the Russians broke into the virtual headquarters of the Democratic Party. The hackers installed the cyber-version of the bugging equipment that Nixon’s goons used—sitting on the DNC computers for a year, eavesdropping on everything, collecting as many scraps as possible. This is trespassing, it’s thievery, it’s a breathtaking transgression of privacy.
While it is pretty obvious why Putin is interested in the outcome of our election, Foer did the work last week (“Putin’s Puppet“) of pointing out what he says is a “clear pattern” for all to see, if they want to see it:
Putin runs stealth efforts on behalf of politicians who rail against the European Union and want to push away from NATO. He’s been a patron of Golden Dawn in Greece, Ataka in Bulgaria, and Jobbik in Hungary. Joe Biden warned about this effort last year in a speech at the Brookings Institution: “President Putin sees such political forces as useful tools to be manipulated, to create cracks in the European body politic which he can then exploit.” Ruptures that will likely multiply after Brexit—a campaign Russia’s many propaganda organs bombastically promoted.
Trump fits right in:
Donald Trump is like the Kremlin’s favored candidates, only more so. He celebrated the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU. He denounces NATO with feeling. He is also a great admirer of Vladimir Putin. Trump’s devotion to the Russian president has been portrayed as buffoonish enthusiasm for a fellow macho strongman. But Trump’s statements of praise amount to something closer to slavish devotion. In 2007, he praised Putin for “rebuilding Russia.” A year later he added, “He does his work well. Much better than our Bush.” When Putin ripped American exceptionalism in a New York Times op-ed in 2013, Trump called it “a masterpiece.” Despite ample evidence, Trump denies that Putin has assassinated his opponents: “In all fairness to Putin, you’re saying he killed people. I haven’t seen that.” In the event that such killings have transpired, they can be forgiven: “At least he’s a leader.” And not just any old head of state: “I will tell you that, in terms of leadership, he’s getting an A.”
Foer documented instances “of Trump carelessly sucking up to Russian power in the hopes of securing business,” which should come as no surprise. Making money, ethically or otherwise, is all he thinks about in depth. And that is why last night on Fox, George Will, who used to be the darling of the conservative intellectual class but now has left Trump’s Republican Party in disgust, said the following:
Perhaps one more reason why we’re not seeing his tax returns — because he is deeply involved in dealing with Russian oligarchs and others. Whether that’s good, bad or indifferent, it’s probably the reasonable surmise.
Another conservative, Bill Kristol, wrote the other day (“Putin’s Party”):
Honest and patriotic Republicans who support Trump, or are tempted to do so, should review some of the publicly available evidence. Trump’s business seems to be heavily dependent on Russian investment. His top campaign advisor, Paul Manafort, was theadvisor to the Putin-backed stooge Viktor Yanukovich, and has deep ties to the Putin apparat. One of Trump’s national security advisors, retired Lt. General Michael Flynn, was paid to give a speech at a Russian propaganda celebration and was seated next to Putin. Trump’s Russia advisor Carter Page, who does much of his business with Russian companies, has argued, among other things, that “a few officials in Washington” annexed Ukraine and that the “so-called annexation” of Crimea by Russia was a rational response to this injustice.
Kristol went on to point out that “practically the only change Trump’s campaign made to the GOP platform was to weaken language supporting Ukraine.” He also noted that “Trump heartily approves of this interference by a foreign power in an American election” and that Trump “has said he will not uphold our NATO commitments.”
Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer went further when he said on Sunday that “the prime objective of the foreign policy of Putin has been to destroy NATO,” and followed with, “[Putin] may have a partner in the White House, if Trump wins.”
None of this disturbing news has caused much of a disturbance among Republican politicians. Kristol’s call for a “a Republican member of Congress” to “lead an urgent investigation into whether Putin is interfering in the current American election” didn’t get any takers. They seem to just shrug it all off, with Mitch McConnell calling Trump’s NATO statements “a rookie mistake,” to which Trump responded that the Majority Leader was “100 percent wrong.” Mitch hasn’t had much to say since then. Apparently, it is too dangerous for a Republican big-leaguer to challenge the Russian-backed rookie. Or maybe McConnell also has some business he wants to do in Russia.
Whatever the reason for the stunning Republican silence, we don’t need a robust imagination to see what would have happened if Putin had aided, say, Barack Obama’s 2012 election and Obama had said the things Trump has said. There would have been a dozen committee hearings—just before the lynching.