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Horowitz: Trump Blames America First

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

 

Donald Trump

In a speech at the 1984 Republican Convention, UN Ambassador and prominent neo-conservative, Jeane Kirkpatrick famously called the Democrats of that era, “The Blame America First Crowd” for their willingness in her view to point fingers at our actions as the root cause of all foreign policy problems. 

If this was her description of the Democratic Party then, just imagine what Jeane Kirkpatrick would have to say about Donald Trump now.  For as Kirkpatrick well-knew, to describe the Democratic party of that day in this provocative way was good Republican red meat, but highly exaggerated. On the other hand, “blame America first’ fits President Trump like a glove--especially in his series of excuses for the actions of Vladmir Putin.

In the wake of Special Counsel Mueller indicting 12 Russian intelligence officers for their hacking of the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton Presidential campaign and his own Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats issuing a stark warning that Russia is gearing up to interfere in the upcoming mid-term elections, President Trump tweeted: “Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!” —

Even more craven, Trump sent this tweet just hours before yesterday's one-on-one meeting with President Putin. According to President Trump, the current dismal state of United States/Russia relations is not primarily a result of active and ongoing Russian cyberwarfare, interfering in our elections and in those of other western democracies, nor is it a result of the taking of Crimea. It is the policies of Presidents Obama and Bush that are to blame.

While there is certainly plenty to criticize about the approach to Russia taken by our two most recent past presidents as well as some valid second guessing about the wisdom of NATO expansion, Russian aggression, violation of international norms, and flouting of nuclear arms agreements is the driving force behind the deterioration of relations.  Trump’s constant excusing and explaining away of this egregious behavior undermines efforts to deter it.

Unfortunately, President Trump remained true to form at the post-Summit joint media conference with President Putin yesterday. When asked directly about whether he believed Russia interfered in the election, Trump said,” I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”  So President Trump continued to put Putin’s completely predictable denial on the same plain with the overwhelming evidence collected by the US government and the unanimous conclusion of Trump’s own appointed intelligence chiefs.  And he has coupled this with the nonsensical refrain that “all he can do is ask Putin the question” when ,of course, he could if he chose to,  actually put the national interest first and protect the integrity of our democracy by holding Putin and Russia accountable for their actions

I can almost hear Jeane  Kirkpatrick rolling around in her grave.

Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island. 

 

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