Obama to Putin: Cut It Out!

Barack Obama has spent the last eight years resisting the idea that Russia is an adversary of the United States. First we had the “reset”; next the cancellation of the Eastern European missile shield; then we had Obama assuring President Medvedev that he would be able to give away the store, but the Russians would need to wait for his second term; and then the presidential debate where Obama mocked Mitt Romney’s statement that Russia is our number one geopolitical rival by saying that the 1980s called, and they want their foreign policy back. In between, we had a foreign policy that was supine in the face of Russian aggression in Crimea and Ukraine.

Now, in a typically head-snapping 180-degree turnabout, Obama and his fellow Democrats portray Republicans as soft on Communism Russia. It’s a throwback to the 1970s, but with the parties’ roles reversed.

In his press conference today, Obama described the stern measures he supposedly took after learning that the Russian government was involved in breaking into Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s email account:

And so in early September when I saw President Putin in China, I felt that the most effective way to ensure that that did not happen was to talk to him directly and tell him to cut it out, there were going to be some serious consequences if he did not.

And in fact, we did not see further tampering of the election process. But the leaks through Wikileaks had already occurred.

So all it took, apparently, was for President Obama to tell Vladimir Putin to cut it out.

This is what I don’t understand: in October 2014, the Russian government hacked into both the White House’s and the State Department’s computer systems. For an unknown period of time, weeks if not months, the Russians were reading White House and State Department emails–a far more significant security breach than the accounts of Debbie Wasserman Schultz and John Podesta. The Obama administration never did discover that its communications had been compromised, but an ally (I suspect it was Israel) alerted the administration to the Russian intrusion. The White House’s computer system was down for weeks while experts tried to deal with the Russian hack and improve security.

What was President Obama’s reaction to this hack, which could reasonably be seen as an act of war? There was none, apparently. The administration downplayed the significance of the intrusion. The Russian government had been reading White House and State Department emails? No big deal! The liberal press followed suit. The newspapers that are now hysterical about the alleged Russian hacking of Wasserman Schultz’s email account dutifully kept quiet about what happened in the White House and the State Department. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Democratic Party newspapers like the Washington Post and the New York Times remained silent because the midterm election was just a few weeks away, and the story reflected badly on the Obama administration.

So this is what I don’t get: why didn’t President Obama tell Vladimir Putin to cut it out back in 2014? If all it took was a stern warning by our president to bring Russian cyberwarfare to a halt, why didn’t Obama tell Putin to stop it two years ago? If he had done so, following his own logic, the Russians would have behaved and there would have been no Wasserman-Schultz hack two years later. Who knows, Hillary Clinton might be our president-elect!

This question is so blindingly obvious that one can only wonder why not a single reporter at today’s press conference thought to ask it.

I am just kidding, of course. The news outlets that covered up the Russian hack of White House and State Department computers in 2014 are not about to challenge their fellow Democrat today.

For background on the 2014 intrusion, which the Obama administration attributed to Russia after the fact, go here, here, here, here, here and here.

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