The Democrats' Nauseating Putin Hypocrisy

The degree to which the Democrats have changed their tune on Vladimir Putin almost on a proverbial dime is either black comic or nauseating or both, depending on how you want to look at it. Whatever it is, it is a extremely obvious example of how party politics is conducted in our era (possibly always).

If your side does it, it's diplomatic genius bound to yield peace in our time. If the other side does the exact same thing, it's a horrendous mistake bordering on treason likely to cause a national calamity, if not global Armageddon.

If there were any decent, even semi-even-handed political science departments left in our country (okay, maybe there are one or two), what we might call the Democrats' "Great Putin Flip Flop" would be a textbook case for classroom discussion.

Let's start at the beginning, March 2009, but a few weeks after the first inauguration of Barack Obama, when a smiling Hillary Clinton presented Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov the red "reset" button, signaling the arrival of a supposed era of peace between the two countries.  The new administration was greeted with hosannas for their great symbolism from their loyal claque at the New York Times, Washington Post, NBC, et al., who were oblivious, needless to say, that the word "peregruzka" printed in Cyrillic on the button, thought to mean "reset" in Russian by the linguistic geniuses in our State Department, was actually the word for "overload."

No wonder Lavrov has such a quizzical look on his face in the all the photos. (Imagine what the reaction of the press would have been had Trump's putative secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, done something similar. Media lynch mob?) Much more important, however,  was the extreme ignorance of the Russian character, from the Czars through Lenin and Stalin and on into the present, evinced by such a naive, almost childish, "reset." Throughout the East, of which Russia has always been a signal part despite intermittent yearnings for the West, a powerful leader has always been the center of national and tribal life.  Silly, symbolic gestures like “reset” buttons are seen as weakness, not compromises or attempts at global comity. They are something to exploit.

Barack Obama, however, went on undeterred. The U.S. president, in South Korea in March 2012 for a nuclear security summit, was caught on open mic with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev confidentially informing the Russian president, as if Medvedev would be so stupid as not to know, that  "after my election, I will have more flexibility." Obama wanted that news conveyed to Medvedev's boss Putin so the true Russian president would give Obama some "space." Only Barack clearly didn't realize Vladmir was a capo di tutti capi and would behave like one -- not, say, a Republican senator from a swing state who could be swayed with a "chummy presidential phone call."