We’ll I guess we’re all Putinites now, or at least that’s what MSNBC’s Joy Reid thinks of the GOP. The liberal host was on the guest panel for Nicolle Wallace’s Deadline: White House program, where the topic was whether the GOP was evolving into the party of Putin. It’s par for the course for MSNBC, whose only existence is to keep progressives well sated in their anti-Trump hysteria—and what better character to portray this than Ms. Reid (via Real Clear Politics):
JOY REID, MSNBC: My old Cold-warrior Reaganite father must be spinning in his grave to know that the United States which used to-- he's African, so the desire to limit the expansion of Russian spheres of influence led us to support the apartheid government of South Africa over Nelson Mandela. Now we have a Republican Party that not only at its base is becoming Putinite, pro-Putin -- you're seeing it accelerate.
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: It's not just the president. There are loud voices in conservative media who celebrate [Julian] Assange, who praise the brute strength of Putin.
REID: That's right. And for a lot of reasons the alt-right, for these sort of weird white nationalist reasons, they feel he's advancing white Christianity. Whatever it is, Russia is an adversary of the United States, wants to dismantle our influence in Europe. Trump seems to agree, he seems to agree that we should have less influence in Europe, that we should detach ourselves from the NATO alliance. That we should even dismantle our own cybersecurity and make ourselves more vulnerable to Russia, make ourselves more vulnerable to their influence.
It's shocking to see a Republican president essentially capitulate to almost everything Vladimir Putin could possibly want, the full menu, his Christmas list of what he wants from the United States and wants to do to the West. Donald Trump wants to give him it.
Okay—first of all, Cold War mentality did mean getting into bed with less than desirable characters that were anti-communist, but we won that ideological struggle over the Soviet Union. Also, I have no clue where apartheid South Africa fits into this discussion, but, again, it’s MSNBC. That part about conservatives supporting Putin because he’s promoting white Christianity is just nutty. What does that even mean? Christianity transcends race, ethnicity, gender, etc., or at least that was what I was taught at Sunday school. There wasn’t an Asian edition of the Bible. Second, if this has been promoted on alt-Right platforms, which appears to be the case given her remarks, that’s not necessarily representative of the vast majority of the conservative movement. In fact, it’s not really conservatism. A lot of them are white nationalist anti-Semites. Those aren’t tenets of modern conservatism. Also, Trump wants to detach from NATO; he reaffirmed his commitment to Article V of the NATO treaty in Poland.
Someday we'll look back on this and wonder what mind-altering drug the media/political class collectively consumed https://t.co/ajtNZG4bvz— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) July 19, 2017
"When you meet with any Russians, you're meeting with Russian intelligence, and therefore Putin." -- Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) today on CNN— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) July 14, 2017
Louise Mensch is obviously beyond parody, but her Russia conspiracy worldview is only one or two steps removed from your average Democrat.— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) July 19, 2017
We’ve heard and read a lot of anti-Russia hysteria over the past few months. At least this was tame. It’s still funny how in 2012, Mitt Romney was mocked by liberals for saying Russia is our main geopolitical foe. Now, any meeting with Russia is construed as meeting with Putin. A prime example of Russian conspiracy peddling rests with Louise Mensch, who thinks that the Ferguson riots were subsidized by Russia. Oh, and that the death penalty is being considered for Steven Bannon because of spying, or something.
Yet, this brings us back to Reid, where she also said in the segment, “The Obama administration tried this idea of a [Russian] reset when Putin was briefly out of the Russian presidency. It didn’t work. They quickly learned that Russia is still Russia and the reset was put aside and we went back to the traditional posture of the United States.”
Excuse me? You slam Trump for giving Putin his “Christmas list,” but nothing on Obama’s utter failure in Ukraine and Syria. We allowed Russia to annex Crimea. We allowed the Russians back into the Middle East militarily, going against a 50-year policy doctrine. Also, Obama knew about the Russian meddling in August of 2016 and was afraid to respond. There is a growing consensus among liberals that Obama dropped the ball; Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), the co-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee came outright and said he choked. Even Obama’s former national security adviser, Tom Donilon, said that the former president should have done more on the meddling. Bloomberg’s Eli Lake had more on Obama’s utter failure towards Russia [emphasis mine].
The answer is that Obama spent the first six years of his presidency turning a blind eye to Russian aggression. In his first term, Obama pursued a policy of "reset" with Moscow, even though he took office only five months after Russia had occupied two Georgian provinces in the summer of 2008. In the 2012 election, Obama mocked his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, for saying Russia posed a significant threat to U.S. interests. Throughout his presidency, Obama's administration failed to respond to Russian cheating on arms-control agreements. His diplomacy to reach an agreement to temporarily suspend progress on Iran's nuclear program made the U.S. reliant on Russian cooperation for Obama's signature foreign policy achievement.
In the shadows, Russian spies targeted Americans abroad. As I reported in 2011 for the Washington Times, Russia's intelligence services had stepped up this campaign of harassment during the reset. This included breaking into the homes of NGO workers and diplomats. In one case, an official with the National Democratic Institute was framed in the Russian press on false rape charges. In 2013, when the Obama administration appointed Michael McFaul to be his ambassador in Moscow, the harassment got worse. McFaul complained he was tailed by cameramen from the state-owned media every time he left the Embassy for an appointment. He asked on Twitter how the network seemed to always know his private schedule.
The Washington Post reported that these incidents continued throughout the Obama administration. In June 2016, a CIA officer in Moscow was tackled and thrown to the ground by a uniformed guard with Russia's FSB, the successor agency of the KGB.
In 2011, the former Republican chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Christopher "Kit" Bond, told me: "It's not the intelligence committee that fails to understand the problem. It's the Obama administration.”
This lax approach to Russia was captured in the memoir of Obama's former defense secretary, Robert Gates. He wrote that Obama at first was angry at his FBI director, Robert Mueller, and his CIA director, Leon Panetta, for recommending the arrest in 2010 of a network of illegal Russian sleeper agents the FBI had been tracking for years.
"The president seemed as angry at Mueller for wanting to arrest the illegals and at Panetta for wanting to exfiltrate the source from Moscow as he was at the Russians," Gates wrote. He quoted Obama as saying: "Just as we're getting on track with the Russians, this? This is a throwback to the Cold War. This is right out of John le Carré. We put START, Iran, the whole relationship with Russia at risk for this kind of thing?” Gates recounts that the vice president wanted to ignore the entire issue because it threatened to disrupt an upcoming visit from Russia's president at the time, Dmitry Medvedev.
Even after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Obama policy toward Russian aggression was inconsistent. As Foreign Policy magazine reported in May, Obama's State Department slow-rolled a proposal from the U.S. Mission to the United Nations to lay out a set of options to punish Russia's client Syria for its use of chlorine bombs against its own citizens in 2014. Russia and the U.S. forged the agreement in 2013 to remove chemical weapons from the country. In 2015, the Obama administration did nothing to deter Russia from establishing air bases inside Syria, preferring instead to support John Kerry's fruitless efforts to reach a cease-fire agreement with Russia in Syria. That inaction now haunts the U.S. as Russia declared its own no-fly zone this month in Syria, after U.S. forces shot down a Syrian jet.
So, if you really want to argue that the U.S. is giving the house away to Russia, start with blaming Obama.
Oh, and Nicole Wallace is wrong about tough sanctions with regards to the meddling. It was ineffective. The Washington Post story about Obama knowing beforehand noted how the sanctions package was ineffective:
…In the end, in late December, Obama approved a modest package combining measures that had been drawn up to punish Russia for other issues — expulsions of 35 diplomats and the closure of two Russian compounds — with economic sanctions so narrowly targeted that even those who helped design them describe their impact as largely symbolic.
The third issue is how to deter the Russians in the future from doing this again, and here I think they failed miserably. I give them an F, because the package they put together, the kicking the diplomats out, intelligence officers out, closing down a couple of compounds, putting limited sanctions on in no way -- it was a slap on the wrist to Vladimir Putin. He sees it that way. It will not deter him in the future.