U.S. intelligence briefings suggesting Russia strategically favors Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential frontrunner Bernie Sanders are more interesting for the different reactions of the two men than why Russian President Putin might favor this pair over others: Sanders responded publicly by lambasting Russia and making clear Putin is an “autocratic thug” seeking to divide Americans via social-media infestations. Trump, by contrast, turned his guns on his own intelligence people for revealing the information to Democrats.
Which seems to suggest the president views Democrats with greater disdain than he does Russian meddling.
What mentally balanced, good-humored American isn’t amused by the ironies running rampant here? We can sure understand why President Trump exploded, sending his acting director of national intelligence packing: The Mueller report notes on Page 49 that on July 27, 2016, Trump publicly declared, referring to opponent Hillary Clinton’s official emails on a private server: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” Five hours later, Russian government hackers “targeted for the first time Clinton’s personal office.”
Bernie’s blowup wasn’t hard to predict, given his problematic self-identification as a “democratic socialist,” constant attacks by critics regarding his coziness with certain dubious individuals and governments (including long ago Nicaragua’s socialist revolution, a Soviet-backed government that suspended the civil liberties of its citizens) and, finally, Sanders’ knowledge that Republicans are just dying to lambaste him in the general election regarding his so-called “honeymoon” in Moscow. The irony: His trip to Moscow nearly coincides with a historic summit, also in Moscow, between then-U.S. President Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.
So, yes, all this gets a little confusing. Both of Russia’s preferred choices have some baggage.
And, no, we’re not surprised by any of these revelations. We don’t think you should be, either. If you have read Senate Intelligence reports online, none of this astonishes. For those able to view the situation from 30,000 feet up, it’s obvious what’s happening: Putin and his trolls are less intent on electing Trump or Sanders than further dividing We the People, provoking us to become more irrational and spurring more of us to distrust mainstream news media in favor of dubious “news” sources that publish only material confirming the narrow worldview of certain cave-inhabiting denizens.
Proper reaction: Take a deep breath; accept calm assurances from McLennan County election officials that voting machinery will confound any Russian attempt to hack our ongoing elections; and finally, recognize that each of us can repel the Russian menace by refusing to believe the worst in our friends, neighbors and co-workers, whatever their political preferences, so long as they aren’t aiding and abetting the enemy by peddling fake news through mean-spirited or misleading social-media posts.