Trump: The new Manchurian Candidate?*
President Donald Trump verbally attacks and insults most anyone he feels like these days. His bravado knows no boundaries and includes some of the U.S.’s best friends and allies around the world — including England, Canada and Germany. But not once, since taking office, has he dared attack or insult Russia or its leader, Vladimir Putin.
It is strange, especially when taking into account what almost every single intelligence agency in this country has said about Russia’s involvement in, and the hacking of, the 2016 U.S. presidential election: that Russia was involved. Add to that the fact that Russian operatives, under the command of Mr. Putin, were indicted last week as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, accusing them of engaging in a “sustained effort” to hack Democrats’ emails and computer networks.
These facts exploded on Monday (July 16) in Helsinki when the president, standing next to Mr. Putin during a press conference, basically admitted to believing the Russian leader’s answer to Russian meddling in U.S. elections, more than reports offered by U.S. intelligence agencies — most headed by Trump appointees, some even friends of the president.
Again, very strange is the only way to describe the situation.
And many around the country — both Democrats and Republicans — are up in arms about Trump’s performance in Helsinki. Former CIA Director John O. Brennan had probably the toughest critique of the president when he tweeted: “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”
Treasonous. Imbecilic. In the pocket of Putin. And that’s in reference to a president of the United States by a retired CIA director.
Some will claim that he was director under Obama, a Democratic president. Yes, but Republicans chimed in too. Even Fox News went after the president. And they weren’t shy about it either.
“I’ve said a number of times and I say it again, the Russians are not our friends and I entirely believe the assessment of our intelligence community,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican who has consistently criticized the President, said Trump’s comments were “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker said the President “made us look like a pushover.”
Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, rebuked Trump’s statement and put out his own statement that read: “This is bizarre and flat-out wrong. The United States is not to blame. America wants a good relationship with the Russian people but Vladimir Putin and his thugs are responsible for Soviet-style aggression,” adding, “”When the President plays these moral equivalence games, he gives Putin a propaganda win he desperately needs.”
And the list goes on…
The question to ask now is why the president is such a pushover for Putin. It was easy to see during the televised press conference, for example, that he defers to the Russian leader. He seems almost afraid of him, intimidated by him.
The Atlantic Magazine may have described it best when it wrote today (July 16):
“There are exactly two possible explanations for the shameful performance the world witnessed on Monday, from a serving American president.
“Either Donald Trump is flat-out an agent of Russian interests—maybe witting, maybe unwitting, from fear of blackmail, in hope of future deals, out of manly respect for Vladimir Putin, out of gratitude for Russia’s help during the election, out of pathetic inability to see beyond his 306 electoral votes. Whatever the exact mixture of motives might be, it doesn’t really matter.
“Or he is so profoundly ignorant, insecure, and narcissistic that he did not realize that, at every step, he was advancing the line that Putin hoped he would advance, and the line that the American intelligence, defense, and law-enforcement agencies most dreaded.
“Conscious tool. Useful idiot. Those are the choices, though both are possibly true, so that the main question is the proportions.”
Will the situation blow over in a few days? Or will Trump’s biggest contribution to this country end up being that his disastrous actions as president managed to unite both Democrats and Republicans against a sitting president who has only caused chaos and embarrassed this country at home and around the world.
Only time will tell.
* The Manchurian Candidate is a 1962 American suspense thriller film about the Cold War and sleeper agents. The plot centers on a Korean War veteran who was a prisoner of war during the conflict in Korea and while being held was brainwashed by his captors. After his discharge back into civilian life, he becomes an unwitting assassin involved in an international communist conspiracy. Officials from China and the Soviet Union employ him as a sleeper agent in an attempt to subvert and take over the United States government.