In which I collect all the examples of this strange mental defect that have caught my attention in the month of September in the seventeenth year of The New American Century.
(Not a very original idea, actually)
PUTIN WILL HACK THE ELECTION
“The official cautioned that the intelligence community is not saying it has ‘definitive proof’ of such tampering, or any Russian plans to do so.” But mere lack of evidence shouldn’t stop endless headlines and all-round panic, should it?
Never fear, the US Congress may investigate. Or at least Warn Putin’s Hackers To Stop Meddling. (Of course, if they were really afraid, they might introduce paper ballots or voter identification or some other means of making the flimsy US voting system a little harder to game.)
Applebaum explains that, either way, Putin has it covered: “4. The Russians attempt to throw the election. They might try to get Trump elected. Alternatively — and this would, of course, be even more devastating — they might try to rig the election for Clinton, perhaps leaving a trail of evidence designed to connect the rigging operation to Clinton’s campaign.” She’s not alone: “If Mr. Trump wins, Russia wins. But if Mr. Trump loses and people doubt the outcome, Russia also wins.”
Assuming, of course, Putin hasn’t poisoned Clinton first. No evidence, just speculation, but it can’t possibly do any harm to get the story out there. (And don’t forget the added verisimilitude that Will Smith played him in the movie.) Is Trump in on the plot too? Could be.
While Clinton isn’t prepared to agree that the New York City bombs were an “attempt by ISIS or ISIS sympathizers, or really any other group, maybe the Russians, to influence the presidential race in some way and presumably try to drive votes to Donald Trump”, she did helpfully point out that “a lot of the rhetoric we’ve heard from Donald Trump has been seized on by terrorists, in particular ISIS.” And of course, more than once she’s suggested Trump is channelling Putin.
But cheer up, Putin’s DNC Hack Will Backfire because the Kremlin isn’t very good at meddling in other countries’ elections. (So why all the headlines and passionate calls for investigation then?)
TRUMP IS PUTIN’S TOOL
Trump will bring fascism which is somehow related to “Putinism” says the husband of Clinton’s possible foreign minister. Savage bear illustration warning!: Timothy Snyder agrees that Putin, or somebody he’s strongly influenced by, is a “fascist”.
Clinton’s running mate tells us that this is just one of a number of very, very troubling instances where Trump’s coziness with Putin… blah blah, very very blah blah.
This month saw the opening of a whole website melding Putin Derangement Syndrome with Trump Derangement Syndrome: putintrump.org. “The stakes are enormous. Voting Trump / Pence in 2016 could lead to a Putin / Trump world in 2017.” The Dangers of the Putin-Trump Relationship “In this current cycle, Glaser is funding a new kind of political effort: a website—PutinTrump.org—intended to highlight the connections between the Republican presidential nominee and Russia’s authoritarian president.” The founder of the site is a big donor to the Democratic Party. (The Clinton campaign is, after all, the fons et origo of the Russia hack story. And for pretty obvious reasons too: to divert attention from the real scandal. And maybe worse.)
But, there is some hope: Julia Ioffe believes that somehow, Russia’s ban of Pornhub reflects badly on Trump.
Maybe Putin & Co aren’t fascists at all: someone at MSNBC thinks it’s “authoritarian, communist Russia”. And note the cute hammers and sickles at putintrump.org. Does that make Trump a secret commie?
Krauthammer is distressed by people who think Putin plays by the rules: “It makes you want to weep. This KGB thug adhering to norms? He invades Ukraine, annexes Crimea, bombs hospitals in Aleppo — and we expect him to observe cyber-code etiquette? Of course, like most of his columns, he’s really bashing Obama: Putin and Xi are just convenient sticks to hit him with.
Obama solemnly informs us that Putin is no more genuinely popular than Saddam Hussein was. Another example of many that show the stunning ignorance in his Administration about Russia. A long and, if you think about it, frightening list of delusions.
The reluctance of some Balkan countries to jump on board the NATO bandwagon is due to Russia’s years-long plot to influence Balkan politics and nothing to do with memories of NATO’s wars there.
But I think this month’s outstanding example of sheer silliness is this one. “What is behind Vladimir Putin’s curious interest in Mount Athos?“. Not much of a mystery: there has been a Russian monastery there for 800 years, Russian governments traditionally supported it, Putin is a believer. But no: must be a “listening post or centre for intelligence gathering” or some other “secret agenda”.
I’ll be away a lot of October and November so you’ll have to wait a while for the next one. By then we’ll know if Putin gamed the US election so that either Trump or Clinton won. But you know… either way… Putin wins!