It’s not an explicit confession of error, of course, but consider this line that appears well into a report about Joe Biden’s meeting with Vladimir Putin: “Putin’s high hopes for Trump delivered little for Moscow.”
How can that be? The Post, the Democrats, and more than a few Never Trumpers told us that Trump colluded with Putin. Had that been true, Trump would have delivered for Moscow or else been exposed by Putin’s team for not living up to the (alleged) corrupt bargain.
The obvious reality is that Trump owed Putin nothing and that Putin had nothing on Trump. The collusion story that dominated media coverage of Trump for the first half of his presidency and was the centerpiece of the Democrats’ opposition to him amounted to a “hoax,” just as Trump always said.
What did Trump deliver for Moscow? Sanctions, resistance to Nord Stream 2, and military aid for Ukraine — lethal aid, not just the blankets and ready meals Obama supplied.
Oh yes, Trump also expressed skepticism about claims that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. The Post points this out in its report.
But that was no favor to Putin. The Russian autocrat, who craves the perception of strength and influence above all else, would like that the world to think he’s powerful enough to influence an American presidential race.
In any event, Trump’s expressions of skepticism had nothing to do with collusion. Trump simply didn’t want people to think his 2016 victory owed anything to the help of outsiders (and there’s no good reason to believe it did).
The Post’s confession of error on Trump is a throwaway line. The article itself is, as I said, about the Putin-Biden meeting.
And here too, the Post makes an admission against interests. Reporter Robyn Dixon says that Putin “flew home [from the meeting] with almost everything he wanted.” Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, goes further. He told the Post that Putin “got all that he had come for.”
Imagine that. Trump gave Putin essentially nothing. Biden so far has given Russia’s boss just about everything he wanted.
What did Putin want? According to the Post, he wanted respect above all else.
He got it. As the Post puts it, Biden acknowledged Putin as the leader of one of the world’s two nuclear powers and the man without whom global security goes nowhere.
Putin boasted about this. At a post-summit presser, he noted that his meeting with Biden lasted nearly two hours, adding “it’s not every world leader that gets this amount of attention.”
The Post cites two policy areas as to which Putin seems to have gotten what he wanted. First, acknowledgement of his “red line” against Ukraine’s admission to NATO. Second an agreement to discuss rules on international cybersecurity.
The Post doesn’t mention two more important things that Biden gave Putin pre-summit. First, no sanctions regarding Nord Stream 2. Second, no provision at this time of the military aid to Ukraine authorized by Congress.
Not a bad haul. Grounds for Democrats to impeach, if Trump had made these concession.
Pre-Trump, it was Democrats who openly took a soft line on Russia. Recall how Barack Obama ridiculed Mitt Romney for warning of the threat Putin posed to international security.
With the rise of Trump, the Democrats suddenly talked a hard line on Russia, but is was all for show. That was pretty clear then and it’s obvious now.
To paraphrase Obama’s putdown of Romney during their second debate: “2009-2017 is now calling to ask for its Russia policy back.”