Trump has concluded his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and we’re now well into the full-on media and politician meltdown we all expected to follow.
Once again, President Trump didn’t followed the script tacitly imposed on him by the Swamp’s foreign policy elites and their legacy media cheering section when he appeared with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a joint press conference in Helsinki.
Cue the meltdown:
Everyone is numb and in shock. We can’t believe what we just witnessed, but for me it’s this simple: The President of the United States openly colluded with Putin to undermine our democracy.
— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) July 16, 2018
GOP Sen. Ben Sasse calls Trump performance "bizarre and flat-out wrong." Blasts Trump for blaming bad U.S.-Russia relationship on U.S.: "When the President plays these moral equivalence games, he gives Putin a propaganda win he desperately needs.”
— Alex Bolton (@alexanderbolton) July 16, 2018
Anderson Cooper after presser: "You have been watching perhaps one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president…"
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) July 16, 2018
Missed opportunity by President Trump to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections.
This answer by President Trump will be seen by Russia as a sign of weakness and create far more problems than it solves. (1/3)
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) July 16, 2018
And then we have some truly unhinged treason allegations:
Art. III requires two witnesses to convict someone of the crime of treason. Conveniently, the 2-hour Trump-Putin session in Helsinki, which Trump says fully turned around our bad relationship with Russia, was conducted with no witnesses but the principals and their translators.
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) July 16, 2018
Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of “high crimes & misdemeanors.” It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???
— John O. Brennan (@JohnBrennan) July 16, 2018
After @POTUS's shockingly dangerous, anti-American display of treason 2day…just imagine all that #Mueller has on him & the #Trump family. It's just a matter of time b4 this despicable traitor is impeached, indicted & removed from office. The Feds r closing in…#Helsinki #Putin
— Andy Ostroy (@AndyOstroy) July 16, 2018
Trea·son (pron.ˈtrēzən), n. the action of betraying someone or something.
That entire press conference was a profound act of betrayal of the United States. https://t.co/uFgLAc1O3b
— Norm Eisen (@NormEisen) July 16, 2018
And, of course, this news cycle wouldn’t be complete without blackmail conspiracy speculation from a high-ranking Democratic official.
Schumer: Millions of Americans will continue to wonder if the only possible explanation for this dangerous behavior is the possibility that President Putin holds damaging information over President Trump.
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) July 16, 2018
Left-leaning commentariat and elected/appointed officials reaching to mainstream calls of treason over a press conference they didn’t approve of with a foreign leader they only started worrying about in earnest about 2 years ago would be a lot more disturbing if it weren’t all so pitifully predictable.
Let’s just begin with the acknowledgement that there was never going to be any outcome from this new chapter of U.S.-Russia relations without Trump’s political opposition accusing him of being a Putin puppet, as I explained elsewhere.
And, to be fair, it’s worth a decent eyeroll that Trump won’t acknowledge that the Russian government tried to meddle in the 2016 election. The rule of thumb when dealing with a conniving operator like Putin is to not believe a word he says, after all. Plus, it does nothing but give his opposition an endless supply of tedious political ammo.
But, at the same time, given the actual level of sophistication or lack thereof involved in the operation, it might be better to not give Putin the satisfaction, as Sean Davis explains.
I can't think of a bigger propaganda victory for a tinpot tyrant than having the leader of the world declare publicly that the tyrant single-handedly affected the biggest election on earth using little more than social media trolls and some bitcoin. https://t.co/gXU1cEDLYb
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) July 16, 2018
The rule of thumb in covering Trump, however, is not to get distracted by the tweets, the presser comments, and the off-the-cuff reactions. You have to stay focused on his actions and the actual policy results, or you’ll miss the important stuff, like the fact that Trump is still hawkish on Russia, despite the hullaballoo.
This is especially true when it comes to Trump’s foreign policy. When he’s breaking from decades of establishment consensus on diplomacy, the key is to wait for the results and then judge those. Monday-morning quarterback what was said at a joint press conference all you want, but it’s no indicator of what the United States’ approach to the Russian Federation will be under the Trump administration, nor whether that approach will bear fruit.
It’s truly confounding that so many in the news business have been tracking Donald Trump since he came down the escalator to announce his candidacy for president over three years ago and apparently still don’t get any of this.
Either that, or they understand the concept but still want to force POTUS into a cookie-cutter mold he’ll never fit, or they just want to drive up their click traffic, their social media numbers, and their cable news appearances by willfully ignoring it. My money’s on option #3.