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From Russia Meddling to DNC Incompetence: Where We Are and Why It Matters

I just finished reading “Trump, Putin, and The New Cold War” that appeared in the May 6 issue of The New Yorker (the online title is different in the magazine).

Written by Evan Osnos, David Remnick, and Joshua Yaffa, it is likely the longest article I have ever read in the magazine — which I’ve been reading for many years. I note this to underscore my judgment as to the article’s importance.

I did not read it in a single sitting. I’ve done that with many New Yorker articles, but not this one.

If you want specifics from the article, you will need to read it (click here). All I can do here is share my overall impressions, which are:

1. The Evil that is Putin and the Russia apparatchik is beyond dispute, as is their sabotage of the 2016 election. Many Trumpians will deny that, say it’s “fake news,” but this perpetuates a falsehood.

2. The sabotaging of the presidential election is not the sole reason Trump won, but when you lose the presidency by 70,000 critical votes, its impact cannot be overstated.

3. But Russia’s role in the election in assisting Trump’s improbable “victory” is secondary to the mind-boggling incompetence of Hillary Clinton, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and the Democratic National Committee.

It’s impossible to overstate Ms. Clinton’s failure and that of her $800,000,000 campaign, or that of her 1,000 campaign employees, to grasp what was happening in America. Neither Ms. Clinton nor her staff got it, but Trump did. How is that possible other than rank incompetence? (That is not The New Yorker’s point, but rather mine.)

Russia's role in the election in assisting Trump's improbable 'victory' is secondary to the mind-boggling incompetence of Hillary Clinton, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and the DNC.

It was obvious very early on that Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz, doubling as chair of the DNC (always a bad idea, as you can do justice neither to your constituents nor your Committee) favored Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. Her denials were hollow and unconvincing, as WikiLeaks proved.

READ MORE: The Anti-Sanders Emails That Led Wasserman Schultz to Resign as DNC Chair

But by the time the facts were established and Ms. Wasserman Schultz had resigned (replaced by Donna Brazile; at best a wash, more likely a loss), it was too late.

The supporters of Senator Sanders were livid, with due cause, and Ms. Clinton as the Democratic nominee, continued on with her tone deaf campaign – impressing neither independent nor Middle America voters.

4. But despite Ms. Clinton’s colossal failings as a presidential candidate, she was on track to win the election and become the 45th President of the United States, until Friday, October 29, 2016, the day that James Comey, director of the FBI, issued a statement saying the bureau was reopening its investigation into Ms. Clinton’s emails, while secretary of state.

Perhaps in presidential campaigns there have been more egregious acts that sunk a candidate, but not one that comes to my mind.

I knew the day it happened it would have disastrous results for Ms. Clinton’s campaign; a disaster aided and abetted by the White House’s failure to fire Director Comey for an unforgettable breach of department protocol.

(Yes, it’s true Comey came off as a hero during his Senate testimony this past spring, but that does not change the damage he did the day the FBI also sabotaged Ms. Clinton’s presidential campaign and changed the course of American history.)

How ironic the person who benefitted most from Mr. Comey’s wrongheaded decision was candidate Trump — who later, as President Trump, fired Mr. Comey.

But beyond the four reasons I list as to the denouncement of the ’16 campaign, there is the transcendent significance of the larger issue in The New Yorker’s article.

To put that in context, here are my outtakes from section five of the article (slightly modified for publication on IVN):

“No reasonable analyst believes that Russia’s active measures in the United States and Europe have been the dominant force behind the ascent of Trump and nationalist politicians in Europe. Resentment of the effects of globalization and deindustrialization are far more important factors.

“But many Western Europeans do fear that the West and its postwar alliances and institutions are endangered, and that Trump, who has expressed doubts about NATO and showed allegiance to Brexit and similar anti-European movements, cannot be counted on.

“Although both Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis have expressed support for traditional alliances, Trump remains entirely uncritical of Putin.

No reasonable analyst believes that Russia’s active measures in the United States and Europe have been the dominant force behind the ascent of Trump and nationalist politicians in Europe.
Evan Osnos, David Remnick, and Joshua Yaffa, The New Yorker

“‘Trump changes the situation from a NATO perspective,’ General Shirreff said. ‘The great fear is the neutering of nato and the decoupling of America from European security. If that happens, it gives Putin all kinds of opportunities…

“‘How long will Angela Merkel hold out against Donald Trump?’ Stephen Sestanovich, who was an adviser on Russia to both the Reagan and the Clinton Administrations, asked. ‘She is already by herself in Europe. Putin is going to look like the preëminent power in Europe.’

“Der Spiegel published a startling editorial recently that reflected the general dismay in Europe, and the decline of American prestige since Trump’s election. The new President, it said, is becoming ‘a danger to the world.’

“Strobe Talbott, who served as Deputy Secretary of State in the Clinton Administration, told The New Yorker he “believes that Trump, by showing so little regard for the institutions established by the political West in the past seventy years, is putting the world in danger.

“Asked what the consequences of ‘losing’ such a conflict would be, Talbott said, ‘The not quite apocalyptic answer is that it is going to take years and years and years to get back to where ww – we the United States and we the champions of the liberal world order – were as recently as five years ago.’”

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