Yes, the president messed up majorly the other day at the press conference in Helsinki when he more or less discounted the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies and instead seemed to take the word of Vladimir Putin.
No, it is not treason. And no, it does not prove the president colluded with Russia.
Let me get this out of the way immediately: While I am willing to believe the Russians meddled in the run up to the 2016 presidential election, the idea that the intelligence community should always be believed merely as an article of faith is ridiculous.
These are the same people that were spying on the American people via metadata collection without anybody’s knowledge and repeatedly lied about it.
Hell, they even spied on Congress.
So I completely understand if the president did not just want to take their word for it and instead demanded to see proof.
But that should have been a behind closed doors issue and the president should certainly not have appeared to take Vladimir Putin at his word while eschewing American intelligence.
Part of the problem here is that the real story is right in front of people and most do not see it, mostly because they do not want to.
President Trump sees everything through the lens of what he perceives to be his own greatness.
Thus, he simply will not allow himself to admit that the Russians likely attempted to influence the election process — even though Deputy AG Rosenstein said there was zero proof any votes were altered — as they have for decades (and as we have in reverse), because he believes it somehow hurts his legitimacy.
He is conflating collusion — which there is no evidence of — with interference — which the Intel community claims they do have evidence of — and this is the end result.
The media likewise conflates the two and is generally pushing the collusion narrative with no proof it is true.
Both the president’s supporters and his detractors dig their heels in, believe whatever they see that bolsters their own pre-existing biases, and continue to fight over it as they have since day one.
Meanwhile, the economy and jobs, which are both winning issues for the president gets ignored.
The potential confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice gets ignored.
Our persisting immigration problems get ignored.
And most importantly, the true foreign policy aim of these types of summits get ignored.
As Senator Rand Paul pointed out, no, the Russians are not our friends, but we should certainly aim for the most peaceful relations we can.
The president did not commit treason and screaming about the election meddling being an act of war is preposterous.
When another country commits an act of war, we retaliate with force. Is that really what these people want?
As Senator Paul said, screaming and yelling at Russia is nothing more than an exercise in futility, especially when they are hardly the only ones who wish to meddle in our elections (ie: China and others).
Some sort of sanctions are fine, I suppose, though they are largely symbollic And the president has already taken action against Russia and its allies — namely Syria — in a way much more forceful than his predecessor ever did.
But honestly, the best course of action going forward is to work on cybersecurity so that nothing like this happens again.
And as far as Russia, we do have common enemies and common cause from time to time. Should we or should we not try to avoid a military conflict and attempt cooperation against mutual enemies like ISIS?
This does not mean Russia is our friend. It means we have an occasional mutual interest worth pursuing.
Putin is a brutal thug, but so are the leaders of may other countries we deal with from time to time. It does not make any of them allies any more than Joseph Stalin was an ally when he and the United States had a mutual interest in defeating Hitler during World War II.
So feel free to criticize the president for what he said in Helsinki. He deserves it.
But do not lose sight of the greater picture just because you may have a severe dislike for the president.
Let’s tighten up our cybersecurity and do our best to avoid meddling becoming an issue in the future.
But stop saying things like treason and act of war.
You are greatly overstating your case and unless you actually want military action taken against Russia, it is going to lead somewhere you really do not want to go.