March 28th, 2020


Why Obama mocked Romney over Russia, but now blames Russia for Trump

Andrew Malcolm

By Andrew Malcolm McClatchy Washington Bureau/(TNS)

Published Dec. 13, 2016

 Why Obama mocked Romney over Russia, but now blames Russia for Trump

Now that the 2016 election is long over and online hackers have had ample time to cover their e-tracks, a bold President Barack Obama has decisively ordered a "full review" of Russian and other interference in the United States electoral process.

We should probably say alleged Russian interference since no one has offered any proof, just reasonable suspicions of who might benefit from the release of documents that Democrats wanted to keep hidden. The Trump campaign criticized the move.

A government spokeswoman in Moscow claims numerous requests for evidence to back up the U.S. charges have gone unanswered.

On Oct. 7 the office of James Clapper, Obama's director of National Intelligence, released a statement: "The U.S. Intelligence Community is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations."

Again, no evidence. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who was suggesting Russia and Donald Trump were in league to deny her rightful political inheritance, grasped the line. In fact, she often claimed that 17 U.S. intelligence agencies were certain it was the Russkies.

Clinton's convenient charge raises a serious question: Why in the world does one nation need 17 intelligence agencies? Seriously, especially since 9/11's failures to connect the dots demonstrated those agencies' instinctive bureaucratic preference for disaster over sharing intel.

Although, honestly, young male Saudis taking passenger-jet flight lessons with no employer and no interest in landing procedures could raise suspicions among even unintelligent intelligence agents.

Speaking of intelligence failures, we've experienced Obama's notably false claims that al-Qaida was on the run, weeks before the 2012 Benghazi attack killed four Americans.

Almost two years ago, Obama infamously dismissed ISIS as a "JV" team, and it took him six months to devise a "strategy" for his "No. 1 priority" - defeating ISIS.

Last week Obama admitted surprise over the rise of that terrorist movement in the Iraqi power vacuum after his 2011 U.S. troop withdrawal. Was the president not listening during his daily intelligence briefings? Or did those agencies miss that too?

When Edward Snowden flew off to China and Russia with reams of national security secrets in 2013, Obama initially dismissed him as "a hacker."

Now, hacking into American institutions has become sadly routine during this administration. Among the targets: Defense contractors, millions of federal personnel files and even entertainment companies.

Finger-pointing at foreign powers makes for good media, even on Fridays. Unidentified administration officials have named Russia, China and North Korea as culprits. They even identified a Shanghai military building where such hacking originates.

Obama's standard response to bad news is to launch a distraction. Hence that phony anti-Muslim video tale he blamed for Benghazi, even weeks after its debunking. Feds arrested the videographer anyway.

Obama's damage controls also include flurries of PR activity, mainly verbal. Remember his "swift justice" for the Benghazi killers? Obama's outrage over the IRS persecuting conservative groups to help his 2012 campaign?

Results: One Libyan mob member was captured. No one was charged at the IRS or elsewhere.

That will be a major legacy of Obama's 2,922-day presidency. No consequences. Solyndra. Fast and Furious. You can keep your doctor. And Clinton's national security violations, among many.

Now the Washington Post, which still can't believe Trump won, reports that the CIA has concluded Russia was actively trying to help the billionaire win. Because, clearly, without communist subversions Americans would never elect him on their own.

Maybe the Russians did do something. That's not the issue.

Besides complaining publicly, has the Obama administration done something, anything, besides whine about being victimized by hackers? Maybe take responsibility and tighten security?

And why did alleged hacking only bother Obama after a Republican victory, not his own two?

In 2012, Obama mocked Mitt Romney for suggesting Russia was our top geopolitical foe. Now it's expedient for the Democrat and minions to ensure the focus is on Moscow as foe. After all this time and those breaches, and only in his final meaningless month, does Obama order a report (which will be largely secret) allegedly to explore the allegedly Russian threats.

Because, see, that way the public discussion won't be where it belongs: On how, after eight long years under Barack Obama, the cybersecurity of America's government and even the president's own political party remain so pathetically vulnerable?

Again, no consequences.

Andrew Malcolm
McClatchy Washington Bureau

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Malcolm is an author and veteran national and foreign correspondent covering politics since the 1960s.