The Manchurian President
It’s hard to overstate the danger to America from the revelation by U.S. intelligence agencies that the nation’s historic adversary Russia, directed by President Vladimir Putin, covertly interfered in the U.S. election to help put incoming President Donald Trump into office.
The danger increases exponentially when most Republicans appear profoundly undisturbed by enemy intervention into American democracy as long as they’re the ones benefitting.
Former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell called the unprecedented Russian interference “the political equivalent of 9/11.” Morell said it was “an attack on our very democracy … A foreign government messing around in our elections is, I think, an existential threat to our way of life.”
Trump doesn’t exactly allay fears he could be a Russian puppet when he takes Putin’s side against his own nation’s intelligence services.
Trump attacked the conclusion by the CIA, FBI and other intelligence agencies as “ridiculous” and belittled those intelligence professionals as the same people who justified George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq by falsely claiming Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
Now Trump wants to reduce the intelligence briefings he receives as president to avoid being confronted with facts and analyses he doesn’t like.
Meanwhile, Trump fills his cabinet with Putin pals like Secretary of State-designee Rex Tillerson, the ExxonMobil chairman Putin awarded Russia’s Order of Friendship after he negotiated an enormous oil deal with Putin, and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who was Putin’s guest of honor at a gala Moscow dinner in 2015 after Flynn gave a paid speech in Russia.
Seriously, did someone travel back in a time machine and do something terribly wrong to alter history so that the Cold War with the Soviet Union, which threatened the entire world with nuclear annihilation throughout the 1950s and ’60s, has been completely erased from the consciousness of conservative Republicans?
GOP Cozying Up to Reagan’s Evil Empire
The next Republican president is eagerly cozying up with President Reagan’s “Evil Empire.” Putin seems to think if he blows a few kisses to Trump he can get away with grabbing other countries anywhere he wants. I wonder where he got that idea.
We’ve actually seen this movie before. It’s called The Manchurian Candidate. The original version, released in 1962, was the perfect Cold War political thriller. We didn’t realize it also was a visionary documentary about the 2016 election.
The film starred Frank Sinatra as an Army intelligence officer and Angela Lansbury as Vladimir Putin in drag before she became a nosy old lady solving murders in “Murder, She Wrote.”
The film was about an intricate communist plot to make one of their own the president of the United States. Their vehicle was a simple-minded politician talking incendiary trash about defeating America’s enemies who really had a secret plan from his evil wife, Angela, to suspend the Constitution under emergency war powers that would “make martial law seem like anarchy.”
Other fun twists involved assassination and brainwashing. In Trump’s case, as someone once said about George Romney, Mitt’s dad, when he claimed he was brainwashed on Vietnam, Trump didn’t require brainwashing. A light rinse would suffice. Trump already openly expresses admiration for the strong political support achieved by totalitarian dictators like Putin. Or else.
The alliance between Trump and Putin may not even be ideological. As with Tillerson, it might just be a business deal.
Since Trump still refuses to release his tax returns, we can never know the real motive behind anything he ever does. Is there some benefit to the nation or is it simply to increase Trump’s own personal wealth?
Donald Trump Jr., one of the sons who will continue handling the family business, said in 2008: “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets … We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”
Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia has been described as a kleptocracy, literally “rule by thieves.” It’s a corrupt government that exploits the country to make billionaires of political leaders and their friends.
That’s an environment in which the multibillion-dollar Trump real estate empire, just like Tillerson’s ExxonMobil, can make out like a bandit by working deals with a corrupt government.
The lack of concern among so many Republicans about U.S. election sabotage is short-sighted and self-serving. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell oppose any independent, nonpartisan investigation that can’t be controlled by Republicans.
In Ryan’s words, “As we work to protect our democracy from foreign influence, we should not cast doubt on the clear and decisive outcome of this election.”
President Obama expressed amazement at a recent poll showing more than a third of Trump’s Republican voters had a positive view of Putin, a development he correctly noted would cause Reagan to spin in his grave.
How long can Republicans support anti-American attacks on democracy simply because it hurts Democrats without losing their own country in an unholy alliance with a ruthless, KGB-trained, Russian dictator?