Friday, September 9, 2016

The Vladimar Putin Republicans

It wasn't so long ago the GOP was eviscerating Obama for being weak on Putin. They mocked the Russian reset. The Republicans in the primary vied with each other to see who could denounce Putin in the most uncertain terms.

Remember what Little Marco Rubio used to say about Putin?

“Under my administration, there will be no pleading for meetings with Vladimir Putin. He will be treated as the gangster and thug that he is. And yes, I stand by that phrasing,” Rubio said.

“Even as we must confront Russia in Europe and the Middle East, we need to increase our support to the Russian people. It is important to note that our concerns with Russia are not with them – for it is they who suffer most from Putin’s lies, thievery and repression. Unlike this President, I will speak frankly about who Vladimir Putin is and what his regime represents.”

Well, that was then and this is now:

"Rubio called Putin a thug again on Thursday but his soft handling of Trump speaks to the dynamics of the upcoming election."

"He hopes Trump might have a rethink at some time in the future after he's elected President of the United States. Sure. If you don't trust someone to have the nuclear codes as Rubio said of Trump in the primaries, and if this same someone seems to have a fondness for a guy you call a gangster and a thug, the thing to do is make him the most powerful chief executive in the world and hope he changes his mind later. "

"Marco Rubio, the senator from Florida who made his opposition to Putin a central tenet of his own presidential campaign, similarly disagreed with Trump’s assertion that the Russian president was a better leader than Obama."

“Look, I have tremendous policy disagreements with President Obama, but Vladimir Putin is an authoritarian thug who is accountable to no one,” Rubio told the Guardian.

“I don’t think what Vladimir Putin exhibits is leadership. I think what he exhibits is thuggery … and we should be clear-eyed about that,” he added, noting that Putin controlled the media, the military and often his political opponents were either imprisoned or found dead."

Hope is a powerful strategy. Meanwhile, Mike Pence is also praising Putin.

"I think it's inarguable that Vladimir Putin has been a stronger leader in his country than Barack Obama has been in this country," Pence said during an interview with CNN at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Thursday. "And that's going to change the day that Donald Trump becomes president of the United States of America."

"Pence said Trump's bold statement is similar to some of those made by Reagan, who famously met with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Pence clarified that Trump "doesn't particularly like" the way Putin, the Russian president, operates without the same checks and balances that exist in the United States."

Did Reagan also express admiration for Gorbachev's high approval ratings and talk about how his form of leadership should be replicated in the US? Because in saying that Putin is a strong leader and Obama isn't, this suggests that a President Trump would much more closely resemble Putin than Obama.

The Russian connection just never seems to end. Trump certainly made another first yesterday by being interviewed on state Kremlin television.

"How do you say “oops” in Russian?"

"U.S. Presidential candidate and long-time Vladimir Putin admirer Donald Trump appeared on Russian state TV to claim that the Kremlin “probably” isn’t messing with America’s election — but the Republican’s camp says it was all an accident."

But he did say the Kremlin probably isn't messing with our election! That is very reassuring.

"Trump’s campaign claimed the boisterous businessman recorded the interview with King as a favor to his pal, and he he no idea it would wind up on an TV show, let alone one funded by the Russian government."

“Mr. Trump was never told it would be shared anywhere else,” Trump spokesman Jason Miller told CNN.

"Miller insisted that Trump would never have agreed to the interview had he known in was going to wind up on a pro-Kremlin TV network."

Well, heck the Trump campaign would never say anything if it wasn't true. Oh, wait:

"Presidents lie. Politicians lie. People lie. But Trump lies with a ferocious abandon."

"For instance, the fact-checking website PolitiFact found that of the statements by Hillary Clinton that it checked, 22 percent were completely “true” and another 28 percent were “mostly true.”

"But Trump is another animal. There is no true equivalency between Trump and Clinton, or between Trump and any other politician, for that matter. Only 4 percent of Trump’s statements that PolitiFact checked were rated as completely “true” and only another 11 percent were even rated as “mostly true.” Seventy percent of Trump’s statements that the site checked were rated as “mostly false,” “false” or “pants on fire,” the site’s worse rating."

In light of this, the fact that according to a CNN poll, more people think Trump is honest than Hillary is simply media malpractice.

There is something seriously wrong with how the press has covered this election. James Fallows has been absolutely prescient on this.

"Twenty years ago I published a book called Breaking the News: How the Media Undermine American Democracy. The Atlantic ran an excerpt as a cover story, called “Why Americans Hate the Media.”

"The main argument was that habits of mind within the media were making citizens and voters even more fatalistic and jaded about public affairs than they would otherwise be—even more willing to assume that all public figures were fools and crooks, even less willing to be involved in public affairs, and unfortunately for the media even less interested in following news at all."

"These mental habits of the media included an over-emphasis on strife and conflict, a fascination with the mechanics or “game” of politics rather than the real-world consequences, and a self-protective instinct to conceal limited knowledge of a particular subject (a new budget proposal, an international spat) by talking about the politics of these questions, and by presenting disagreements in a he-said/she-said, “plenty of blame on all sides” fashion now known as “false equivalence.”

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