Elliot: Helsinki hell, or when a summit reaches the depths

The Trumpster’s comments with Russian leader Vladimir Putin spark a conflagration of criticism.


U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting on Monday, July 16, 2018 in Helsinki, Finland. (Nikolsky Alexei/TASS/Zuma Press/TNS)

Before the summit, to say expectations were low would have around the same surprise level as predicting the sun would rise in the east.

What summit? you say.

What do you mean, what summit? The summit of K-2, basking in the California sunlight, Mr. In-Touch. Go back to chewing rocks in your cave.

The summit we speak of, of course, is the Helsinki Summit, Putin, the president and chief jailor of Russia, and Our Grand Buffoon, OGB, as he’s known affectionately somewhere off the maps. Mano a mano, etc. Blah blah blah. Media circus to the ends of the Earth, as if a globe could have ends, let alone make them meet. You get the idea.

And yes, expectations were low. Or rather, expectations would have been low, but first you would have to posit some expectations and a universe they could exist in.

We mean, the smart thinking went something like, if OGB doesn’t give away Delaware to Putin (your own little Crimea on the Atlantic, Comrade), that will probably be seen as a victory.

Because, basically, the bar has dropped so low in the last year and a half of the OGB era that it is now buried deep in the earth. Some archaeologists will dig it out some far day in the future and wonder what the hell it was and what it was used for.

Probably they’ll believe it has some kind of religious significance, back in ancient times when there were some kind of religions, and a cult will grow up around the bar. The belief system will be known as the bar code.

But nothing, nothing, prepared us for this: Putin and OGB standing together at a press conference, good comrades together at last. When OGB is asked point-blank whether he believes Putin on Russian intervention in the U.S. 2016 election or the 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, OGB says Putin.

To say observers were shocked is to say the sun rises in the west after all. Never had Americans witness their so-called leader take the side of a brutal, despotic dictator and throw the U.S. intelligence community under the official bus. (Sidenote: which doesn’t run on time, either.)

As Susan Glasser of The New Yorker told NPR, a high-ranking U.S. official in Europe wrote her that “it is a dark day for any American patriot.”

And John Brennan, a former director of the CIA, tweeted:

Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of “high crimes & misdemeanors.” It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???

Well, Sen. John McCain weighed in, calling it “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”

McCain a bit later said, “President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin. He and Putin seemed to be speaking from the same script as the president made a conscious choice to defend a tyrant against the fair questions of a free press and to grant Putin an uncontested platform to spew propaganda and lies to the world.”

Well, OGB does have some firsthand knowledge about spewing propaganda and lies. And, you know, in this world, experience counts.

You have to remember that those quoted above are not wild-eyed liberals who oppose OGB on just about everything.

(Which raises the question: Who are these liberals with wild eyes. We’ve only met liberals with tranquil, domesticated eyes.)

One thing seems clear: OGB’s performance with Putin makes Neville Chamberlain seem like a strong leader with a stout spine who faced down Hitler on Czechoslovakia.

Makes you wonder: What does Putin have on OGB? Not to delve into any conspiracy theories or anything.

It also makes you long for the good old days when future archaeologists discovered the bar code.

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