The hashtag #TreasonSummit was trending on Twitter even before President Donald Trump had met with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, and then the news conference happened. And liberals lost their minds.
No, it probably wasn’t Trump’s best moment. However, the idea that he was somehow putting Russia first or that it somehow constituted actual treason is preposterous.
However, look at the headlines: “Former CIA director John Brennan said Trump’s press conference with Putin was ‘treasonous’ — here’s what legal experts say” (Business Insider), “‘Putin’s poodle’: newspapers declare Trump a traitor after Helsinki summit” (London Guardian), “Stephen Colbert Calls Trump-Putin Meeting ‘Treason'” (The Hollywood Reporter).
Well, thank God we now have the opinion of that eminent political scientist, Dr. Stephen Colbert. I was beginning to get worried he was going to keep quiet about this. How would everyone who forgot to turn off the TV after their CBS affiliate’s 11 o’clock news ended know what to think otherwise?
There were plenty of words to describe what happened on Monday. “Treason” certainly wasn’t one of them. And when it comes to collusion, it doesn’t even rise to what may have become Barack Obama’s most infamous clip — one that nobody seemed to want to air in response to the Trump story.
For those of you who don’t remember, let me set the scene. It was March of 2012, during the early days of President Obama’s re-election campaign. He was meeting with then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Seoul, South Korea. Medvedev was widely seen as a puppet of Putin’s and was going to hand over the presidency to him in a matter of months.
After a news conference, Obama told Medvedev on a hot mic that he needed some space, “particularly with missile defense.” At the time, as Reuters noted, the United States was pursuing a missile-defense system that Moscow was dead set against.
“I understand your message about space,” Medvedev told Obama.
“This is my last election … After my election I have more flexibility,” Obama said
“I will transmit this information to Vladimir,” Medvedev said.
Now, if you buy the idea that presidential comments made at a very public news conference constituted treason, just imagine what it was when a United States president asked another country privately, on a hot mic, to give him “space” back in 2012, particularly when he did so because of an election.
And let’s not say that Russia was any more or less of a threat now than it was then. The DNC hack may be a new chapter in Russia’s various perfidies, but Russia’s been Russia-ing for well on a century now. Reset button or not, the Obama administration clearly knew what Putin’s apparatus was up to.
Yet, the very same people who are calling Trump’s news conference a literal act of treason are the same people who glossed over Obama’s tete-a-tete with Medvedev when it happened six years ago. Some of them were even making excuses for Obama.
And trust me, making actual compromises that were supposed to be covert with Russia’s leader over a missile defense system is a lot worse than rhetoric at a news conference.
Of course, I don’t expect liberals to live up to a logical standard. I never do. It’s always interesting to watch the resolution of cognitive dissonance, though.
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