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From Russia Without Love

How do you unite the Democrats and Republicans in Washington? An easy answer for those of you watching this past week — just have President Donald Trump meet with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. The meeting took place in Helsinki, Finland, and the bipartisanship denouncing of President Trump’s comments could be heard from sea to shining sea.

Locally, Republican Representatives Tom Marino and Glenn Thompson, both big backers of President Trump, would not get his back when it came to negative remarks about our intelligence agencies and statements made about defining of Russia’s role in our last Presidential election process. Representative Marino released the following statement after the US Russia Summit, “America’s relationship with Russia is not binary and many of the issues discussed from energy, cybersecurity and denuclearization need mutual dedication to reach solutions. However, Russia is not our ally, and their motivations are not based on the promotions of democracy and human rights like the United States. Russia and President Putin cannot be trusted.

“As a former prosecutor and Department of Justice employee, my experience tells me the recent indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence officers came with merit and have facts to back them up. United States intelligence agencies have bountiful evidence to confirm Russian activity in our Democratic process.”

Mr. Marino hit the nail right on the head; it’s unfortunate our President didn’t use the same hammer to begin with.

Representative Thompson chimed in, and while he appreciated Mr. Trump’s diplomatic efforts, he said, “I firmly believe the evidence presented to Congress shows that Russia attempted to undermine our democracy. Russia continues to pose a threat to National Security and should be viewed as our adversary. We must continue to empower our intelligence community to ensure there are safeguards against foreign influence or interference in our electoral system.” Very well said by both gentlemen.

I will save you the comments from the other side of the aisle; just let me say they were obviously more vociferous and attacking. For CNN, MSNBC, and much of the national media it was like throwing T-bone steaks to a pack of wolves. They couldn’t wait to devour Mr. Trump, and the statements he made while meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. As for Fox News, to say they were like a cat on a hot tin roof trying to figure out how to dance around Mr. Trump’s latest episode of foot-in-mouth disease is an understatement.

Then, when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, President Trump caved to the bipartisan blistering of him embracing Russia and not publicly supporting American intelligence agencies. I believe he listened to his staff and followed their lead with a prepared statement to clarify his own words. The problem with this is that they were obviously not Mr. Trump’s words. His pledging of support towards our intelligence agencies and his full belief that Russia did interfere in the election process was a stretch based upon what he said less than 24 hours previous. Then he went with that whole double negative thing “I wouldn’t,” instead of “would,” are you serious, Mr. President? He claimed to have misspoken; that the sentence should have been, “I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia. Sort of a double negative.” As in regards to Russia’s involvement in the election. The inflection in his voice in regards to the “sort of a double negative” was as if it was the first time he was reading the prepared statement.

The press conference, intended to diffuse the situation, only made you shake your head more. It was also like blood in the water for the Democrats and most of the media folks, the people at Fox had to be thinking how do we spin this?

So what’s my take on this whole mess? I think it comes back to what are the most troubling issues about President Trump. How do you go out there and make those statements to begin with? Is it a complete lack of common sense? Is it the belief he can get away with saying whatever he wants? It’s beyond believing he’s not politically savvy enough by this point of his presidency. As I watched it over and over again, I could not believe an American president was on the world stage with the leader of Russia making the statements he did. I just do not understand his approach in any way, shape or form.

I believe honesty would have been the best policy at his next day press conference. Just a simple, I screwed up. President Trump supporters are very loyal, and the only risk he runs of losing them is if they start to question his credibility. He was elected because the American people wanted change and were tired of the same old politics. That is also why he can’t come out with some prepared statement that everybody knew was not his words.

Next up is something I have harped upon since Mr. Trump was elected — his ego gets the best of him. He over talks and needs to put that cell phone down and stop tweeting incendiary comments. As this situation unfolded was not the time to claim any success about anything. Which brings me to my next point — Mr. Trump has a terrible tendency of forgetting “There’s No I In Team” and wanting credit for everything including the hard work of those around him. This alienates him from his own party. It also creates a situation that when the chips are down, the people within his party are less likely to support him, and not that I believe they should have in this situation.

At the end of the day, President Trump will be judged on what gets done on his watch. I sincerely hope our President unites those in Washington for the positive, not the “double negative.”

God Bless America.

Jim Webb

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