The Korea Herald


[Martin Schram] Putin’s American Insider defends political saboteurs

By 김케빈도현

Published : Oct. 23, 2016 - 16:14

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With just three weeks to go until Election Day, one political figure has already achieved the sort of stunning American political success famous predecessors never dreamed would be possible.

Sadly, it is Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin clearly had as his fondest goal somehow disrupting the world’s most famous democracy — and perhaps even causing some Americans to lose faith in their cherished democratic process. But surely even Putin never thought he would lucky enough to have his dirty work being done — and his favorite message being spread — by the Ultimate American Insider.

Here is how Putin apparently got so lucky. It was a three-stage effort:

1) The skill of Russian cyberagents: They used cyber tech as a superweapon that Joe Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev never fantasized might exist. US intelligence officials reportedly now believe cyber operatives from Russia’s government broke into and burglarized emails from the computer files of the Democratic Party and, probably, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s advisers. Russia’s cyber burglars escaped with their email loot with a virtual ease that eluded Richard Nixon’s low-tech burglars who got caught red-handed late at night inside the 1972 Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate office building.

2) The leaky resources of WikiLeaks: They leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee and, apparently, Clinton’s campaign advisers to the news media. Soon the American public was reading the sort of snarky, sometimes stupid comments that we know political operatives have always made to each other — about political luminaries they’ve just been flattering in public. In the hullabaloo that followed, the Democratic National Committee’s chairwoman lost her job, her replacement was later embarrassed, and so was Clinton’s top campaign adviser. And former Secretary of State Clinton’s poor self-indulgent email-system decision-making was spotlighted yet again.

3) The geopolitical cluelessness of Putin’s Ultimate American Insider: Yup, Donald Trump. The Republican presidential standard-bearer was exposed in ways that should have been disqualifying to all in the party that always took the toughest line against the Kremlin. Instead, the GOP candidate was revealed as a man Putin easily manipulated into becoming his messenger and megaphone. At his rallies, Trump repeatedly claimed, without a bit of evidence, that America’s 2016 election is “rigged” and Americans shouldn’t trust the election results. Unless, by a miracle not foreshadowed by the polls, Trump wins.

Trump has become Putin’s most staunch defender in the entire Western political world. Trump insisted Putin didn’t invade Ukraine (after Putin invaded Ukraine’s Crimea and ripped it away) or arm Ukraine rebels elsewhere. And he welcomed Russia’s military intervention to save Syria’s murderous dictatorship.

Trump’s infatuation with Russia’s strongman really goes back to the early days of his campaign, when America’s myopic political pundits and late night TV comics tag-teamed to depict Trump as a national punchline. Putin offered a few words of praise for the maligned multibillionaire who had shown an interest in doing business in Russia. Trump insists Putin called him “brilliant” and a “genius” — as when he told NBC’s Matt Lauer: “Well, I think when he calls me brilliant, I’ll take the compliment, OK?”

Actually, Putin didn’t say that. As PolitiFact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning purveyors of truth in the murky world of politics, noted: Putin used the Russian word “yarkii,” which means “bright” or “brilliant” — as a synonym for “vivid” as it pertains to being colorful; but in Russian it doesn’t also translate as a synonym for “intelligent.” But Trump doesn’t want to hear any of that.

In August, former acting director of the CIA, Michael Morell, an independent professional who served Republican and Democratic presidents, took the unusual position of publicly endorsing Clinton, with whom he served during many global crises, for president. In a New York Times op-ed article, Morell deplored the fact that Trump was “ignoring that he has killed and jailed journalists and political opponents, has invaded two of his neighbors and is driving his economy to ruin.” He added:

“In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”

In the news business, we would now expect to hear every prominent patriotic Republican leader announcing their love of their country means they cannot — and will not — vote for Trump for president.

Instead, in the final days of Campaign 2016, America’s beyond-politics patriots remain tormented by the unrelenting sound of Official Republican silence.

By Martin Schram

Martin Schram, an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service, is a veteran Washington journalist, author and TV documentary executive. -- Ed.

(Tribune Content Agency)