Trump’s Feigned Powerlessness Against Russian Interference

As he left for the NATO summit and a meeting with Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump revealed both his fecklessness and his cowardice with his answer to one simple question from the Washington Post’s Phillip Rucker: What will you say or do if Putin denies interfering in the 2016 presidential election? His answer could have come from the mouth of Droopy Dog:

“I mean, look, he may. You know, what am I going to do if — he may deny it. I mean, it’s one of those things. So all I can do is say, ‘Did you?’ and ‘Don’t do it again.’ ”

Really? That’s all you can do? Funny, when it comes to our closest allies and wanting them to do what you demand, you’ll lie about them, publicly embarrass them, threaten them, bully them. But when it comes to our greatest adversary, you think the only thing you can do is say “tsk tsk, don’t do that again”? Really? You’ll berate and intimidate our allies but bow and scrape before our adversaries, all while pretending to be the tough guy.

This is classic bully behavior. He has our NATO allies over a barrel. We’re far bigger and stronger than any of them, so we have leverage and he’s happy to use it, and to make a jackass of himself while doing it. He’ll gladly, gleefully even, pick on those who are smaller than him. But Putin is an even bigger bully than he is. Putin is able to do what Trump only wishes he could do — kill his opponents and stay in power for as long as he wants while looting tens of billions of dollars from the citizens of that country. So Trump not only respects him, he envies him. He wants to be him. He’s in awe of Putin. That’s how bullies operate — they act all tough in the face of those they can beat up but cower before those who can’t.

But the truth is we have as much advantage over Russia as we do over Europe when it comes to both hard and soft power, not to mention economic power. Russia’s GDP is less than 10% of ours. Our military is far larger, more powerful and more technologically advanced. And we have allies — for now, at least, until Trump ruins those relationships for good — that will have our back in any war with Russia. We don’t even need to act like a bully, we just need a quiet resolve not to allow them to get away with interfering in our election. Our sanctions are already costing Putin and his oligarch chronies untold billions, tens of billions, of dollars. And there’s a lot more sanctioning we could do if we wanted to.

But not only does Trump not want to do that, he doesn’t even want to admit that Putin interfered in the election at all because doing so threatens his ego. And with Trump, everything is about preserving his ego.

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