Quote of the Day II:

Reset-button policy then started with the implicit agreement that Russia and the Obama administration both had legitimate grievances against a prior U.S. president [George W. Bush] — a bizarre experience for even an old hand like Putin.

–Victor Davis Hanson at National Review Online


The left's belated animus against Russia is fascinating given the United States passivity towards the bear that gobbled up considerable territory during the last eight years.

Victor Davis Hanson has a must-read piece on "Putin, Obama –and Trump" that explores President Obama's new urgency about Russia:

Obama got wise to Russia only when Putin imperiled not just U.S. strategic interests and government records but also supposedly went so far as to tamper with sacrosanct Democratic-party secrets, thereby endangering the legacy of Barack Obama.

Putin was probably bewildered by Obama’s media-driven and belated concern, given that the Russians, like the Chinese, had in the past hacked U.S. government documents that were far more sensitive than the information it may have mined and leaked in 2016 — and they received nothing but an occasional Obama “cut it out” whine.

The extent of Russian meddling in the presidential race, as far as we know, was releasing emails obtained through hacking of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and other top Democrats in the Clinton orbit. The emails, also as far as we know, were not edited and presented an accurate picture of Democratic operatives. Just a reminder: it was the operatives who revealed themselves as extremely unsympathetic in these emails.

This is not to say that Russian meddling in an American presidential race is not serious, but do you really believe the left would be fixated on it if Hillary Clinton were the new president being sworn in Friday?

The degree of meddling is insufficient to nullify the election, and it is highly destructive of the left to claim that this is the case.

In the light of recent developments, President Obama's overall handling of Putin and Russia richly deserves a retrospective:

Neurotic passive-aggression doesn’t merely bother the Russians; it apparently incites and emboldens them. Obama’s strange approach to Putin since 2009 apparently has run something like the following. Putin surely was understandably angry with the U.S. under the cowboy imperialist George W. Bush, according to the logic of the “reset.”

After all, Obama by 2009 was criticizing Bush more than he was Putin for the supposed ills of the world. But Barack Obama was not quite an American nationalist who sought to advance U.S. interests. Instead, he posed as a new sort of soft-power moralistic politician — not seen since Jimmy Carter — far more interested in rectifying the supposed damage rather than the continuing good that his country has done.

If Putin by 2008 was angry at Bush for his belated pushback over Georgia, at least he was not as miffed at Bush as Obama himself was. Reset-button policy then started with the implicit agreement that Russia and the Obama administration both had legitimate grievances against a prior U.S. president — a bizarre experience for even an old hand like Putin. (Putin probably thought that the occupation and reconstruction of Iraq were a disaster not on ethical or even strategic grounds but because the U.S. had purportedly let the country devolve into something like what Chechnya was before Putin’s iron grip.)

In theory, Obama would captivate Putin with his nontraditional background and soaring rhetoric, the same way he had charmed urban progressive elites at home and Western European socialists abroad. One or two more Cairo speeches would assure Putin that a new America was more interested in confessing its past sins to the Islamic world than confronting its terrorism. And Obama would continue to show his bona fides by cancelling out Bush initiatives such as missile defense in Eastern Europe, muting criticism of Russian territorial expansionism, and tabling the updating and expansion of the American nuclear arsenal.

All the while, Obama would serve occasional verbal cocktails for Putin’s delight — such as the hot-mic promise to be even “more flexible” after his 2012 reelection, the invitation of Russia into the Middle East to get the Obama administration off the hook from enforcing red lines over Syrian WMD use, and the theatrical scorn for Mitt Romney’s supposedly ossified Cold War–era worries about Russian aggression.

President-elect Trump's apparently rosy view of Vladimir Putin is also cause for concern.