Once upon a time in America, Part Two

The Washington Post takes up the same theme raised by Charles Lane on Fox News — President Trump’s tendency to compare himself favorably to Barack Obama. Post reporters Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker cite the same statement Lane did — Trump’s claim that “I have been much tougher on Russia than Obama, just look at the facts.”

Like Lane, Rucker and Parker choose their words carefully when they contend that Trump is being unpresidential in this regard. “With some exceptions,” they write, “presidents are generally deferential to their predecessors and loathe to attack them or even to draw unkind comparisons.”

Who might some of the “exceptions” be? Rucker and Parker don’t tell us.

The most obvious and relevant exception is Barack Obama. And since, unlike Lane, Rucker and Parker had a lengthy article in which to mention Obama’s “attacks” and “unkind comparisons” with George W. Bush, we must conclude that, in failing to mention them, they are guilty of partisan hackery on behalf of their guy, Obama.

The same conclusion follows from this passage:

The facts suggest the opposite [of Trump’s claim that he has been tougher on Russia than Obama], as Trump has repeatedly doubted the conclusions of his own U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the election and has sought to undermine the FBI’s investigation of the matter.

No intelligent comparison of the “toughness” of Trump and Obama towards Russia would fail to look at Trump’s policies towards Russia, and focus instead entirely on Trump’s statements regarding interference in the 2016 election. Yet, Rucker and Parker have nothing to say about Trump’s policies.

Similarly, no intelligent comparison would fail to look with some specificity at Obama’s policies towards Russia. You can’t compare something with nothing.

Yet, all Rucker and Parker have to say on this subject is this:

To be sure, experts have criticized aspects of Obama’s Russia record, and veterans of the last administration have said they regretted not doing more to combat the Kremlin’s influence campaign during the 2016 presidential election.

It is, of course, criticisms of Obama’s Russia record such as those leveled by Jonah Goldberg that make Trump’s claim of superior “toughness” plausible and, in my view, correct. These are key elements of the record, and surely among the ones Trump had in mind when he said “look at the facts.”

Rucker and Parker would rather not. They don’t mention Obama’s appeasement of Putin on European missile defense, his slow-walking aid to Ukraine, the shrugging off annexation of Crimea, and the unwillingness to take seriously his own “red line” in Syria, to cite the most egregious facts. They fail even to provide a link from which the reader can glean what it is about Obama’s Russia record, other than his response to charges of election meddling, that experts have criticized.

If anything, partisan hackery is too kind a description of what Rucker and Parker are dishing out here. They are not reporting, they are “resisting.”

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