When Vladimir Putin “won re-election” as Russian President the other day, I read a report about our president calling to congratulate Putin on his sham victory and could not believe it.

“President Trump called Russian President-elect and Prime Minister Putin to congratulate him on his recent victory in the Russian Presidential election,” the report read. In a statement released n the wake of the election result, President Trump released a statement. “President Trump highlighted achievements in U.S.-Russia relations over the past year with President Putin, including cooperation on the battle against ISIS. President Trump and President Putin agreed that the successful progress in relations should be built upon during the coming years.”

How on earth could President Trump actually lend legitimacy to such an obvious farce?

Well, he did, and that is incredibly disappointing. However, the above report was not about President Trump at all. It was about President Obama.

I took the report from Putin’s election in 2012 and more or less just swapped out the name Trump for Obama each time.

Now, just to be clear: I am not saying that Trump doing it is ok because Obama did it. Quite the opposite. I did not like it when President Obama did it and I do not like it now.

We all know Vladimir Putin is essentially a dictator and his “re-election” was a sham. That does not mean we cannot work with Russia when we have a strategic interest, ie: fighting ISIS. But there is a big difference between strategic alliance and friendship, and while I am anti-hostility to Russia, I am certainly not in favor of openly embracing their totalitarianism.

While I respect Senator John McCain as a man, I do not frequently agree with him on policy. But he seems to be one of the few who was consistent and correct on this issue both now and in 2012. The Senator has harsh words for both presidents, as he well should have.

Again, diplomacy does not need to equal endorsement.

What this whole incident shows, though, is that other than John McCain, most people are phonies on the issue of Russia.

Democrats did not seem to care much when President Obama was making fun of Mitt Romney for being stuck n the 80’s on Russia, but now that they need a scapegoat for the fact that Hillary Clinton could not beat Donald Trump, they will pounce on anything Russia-related.

I heard Congressional Democrats wanted the White House Chef fired for serving Russian dressing.

Republicans were outraged when President Obama called to congratulate Vladimir Putin, but now that it is Present Trump, they are not saying much.

Vladimir Putin is an authoritarian who uses force and intimidation against his own citizens. He throws journalists in jail. This is not a man who needs to be embraced or legitimized.

We do not need to antagonize Russia and in fact, we absolutely should not.

We should be willing to work with them — or anybody else — when we have to.

But President Obama made a mistake congratulating President Putin in 2012. It is a mistake President Trump repeated.

And it is a mistake I hope never happens again, no matter who the president is.

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