Clarke: Trump acting like "Controlled Asset"

Former White House Counterterror Czar Richard Clarke says Trump is acting in a way that he thinks Putin wants him to act.

Posted: Jul 18, 2018 3:37 PM
Updated: Jul 18, 2018 3:37 PM

Sometimes, I'm more alarmed by people's exaggerated reactions to Donald Trump than by Trump himself. It's the cult of exceptionalism. When Barack Obama was in charge, we were told that everything he did was a "first." Now that Trump runs things, everything he does is the "worst." And finally, with that Helsinki, Finland, press conference with Vladimir Putin, he seems to have provoked the GOP to join the hyperbole.

Now we know what constitutes a step too far for Republicans. Not banning most trans people from the military nor splitting up families at the border nor cutting taxes for the super rich. No, it's being nice to Russia.

This despite the fact that it's what practically every postwar Republican president has tried to do. In the 1968 election, Richard Nixon extended "the hand of friendship" to the USSR. In 1975, Gerald Ford also went to Helsinki, and signed an accord that recognized the territorial integrity of communist dictatorships. In 1984, Ronald Reagan offered "peace, cooperation and communication" to the Soviets. In 2001, George W. Bush met Putin, looked into his eyes and "got a sense of his soul." Bush said: "I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy."

Trump's mistakes are not unheard of, some of his policies are familiar. He's been criticized in the last few days for demanding that NATO allies raise defense spending. Why? It's a reasonable request. And Nixon tried it, too, in the '70s -- the so-called Nixon doctrine asked, in part, for the Europeans to spend more and shoulder America's burden.

As for the reaction to Trump's press conference, to call it an exaggeration is, well, an understatement. It's been likened to 1938 Munich, compared in moral depravity to the Kristallnacht in Nazi Germany, and in a ridiculous tweet by Garry Kasparov, the chess champion and human rights activist, called "the darkest hour in the American presidency."

Really? Are we going to put aside all of American history so we can claim this, right now, is its darkest hour? Are we to forget that previous presidents interned Japanese-American citizens? Or drove the Native Americans off their lands? Or endorsed racial segregation? Or supported a war in Vietnam based upon falsehoods that even Trump doesn't have the imagination to dream up?

Barack Obama on Tuesday gave a speech in South Africa in which he claimed that the difference between now and the past is that today when politicians are caught lying, they just go on lying. Does he really think this is new? Is he unaware that Nixon denied America was at war in Cambodia even as he dropped more tonnage on that tiny country than was dropped by the Allies during the entire Second World War?l

And if Trump's meeting with Putin truly shocks you, I urge you to Google photos of Jimmy Carter meeting the Shah of Iran. Or Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein. Both these tyrants were once considered friends or partners with the United States, much as Reagan once described the Contras -- who were accused of kidnap, rape and torture in the Nicaraguan civil war -- as "the moral equal of our founding fathers."

Trust me, America has seen many Munichs, all of them just as morally compromising as Trump's with Putin.

Several dozen wrongs do not, of course, make a right. At his Putin press conference, Trump effectively took Putin's side against the American intelligence services, doing immense damage to US prestige and security. He rowed back a little the next day, conceding that he might have misspoken, that there was interference in 2016 -- but in a wriggly, unconvincing tone that implies he knows he's made a poor judgment but won't confront it honestly (something about saying "would" when he meant "wouldn't").

Trump is not a Russian agent, and we have no reason to believe he's being blackmailed; the psychological truth is probably that Trump cannot accept that Moscow played a role in the election victory he is so proud of -- with or without the Trump campaign's knowledge -- and so he prefers to believe that his own nation's agencies are in error.

This is not about Trump being an evil man, it's about him being an amateur, which is one of the qualities that won him votes.

Trump was elected as an anti-politician who would disrupt a broken order and even take risks. Sometimes they pay off: bringing Saudi Arabia and Israel together and tempting Kim Jong Un out from beneath his rock are all great steps forward. Other times, the President finds himself underprepared and out of his depth. Putin is a proven liar and manipulator, and while Trump may well be a master of deal-making, he simply isn't operating at the level Putin does.

Nevertheless, let's please not descend into panic. Trump encourages us to see everything as a big battle with winners and losers -- and yes, there are things worth standing up for. But look beyond the sensationalized, Trump-style rhetoric that everyone seems to indulge in nowadays to the quiet, sober, behind-the-scenes truth.

The Trump administration is perfectly tough on Russia. It has expelled Russian diplomats, attacked Moscow's ally in Syria (the US military also killed hundreds of Russian mercenaries in Syria in February), raised US defense spending and given arms to Ukraine. There's a lot that's revolutionary and unstable about Trump -- a lot, however, that stays the same.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 296745

Reported Deaths: 6783
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19731230
Hinds18881393
Harrison16780282
Rankin12787265
Jackson12643229
Lee9703161
Madison9484203
Jones8005147
Forrest7250138
Lauderdale6847227
Lowndes6033140
Lamar590980
Lafayette5747113
Washington5229130
Bolivar4620124
Oktibbeha442194
Panola432396
Pearl River4193132
Warren4138115
Pontotoc410771
Marshall404492
Monroe3993128
Union396474
Neshoba3822170
Lincoln3564104
Hancock350277
Leflore3389119
Sunflower319286
Tate303374
Pike301796
Scott295271
Alcorn292463
Yazoo290865
Itawamba290275
Coahoma282069
Tippah279565
Copiah279259
Simpson276680
Prentiss271158
Wayne254541
Leake253172
Marion252778
Covington249780
Grenada248578
Adams235078
George232445
Newton231252
Winston221979
Jasper213845
Tishomingo212965
Attala206870
Chickasaw201453
Holmes182770
Clay179251
Stone173029
Tallahatchie171439
Clarke169672
Calhoun158528
Smith153033
Yalobusha145536
Greene127933
Walthall124540
Noxubee123131
Montgomery122939
Perry122235
Lawrence120621
Carroll119025
Amite112235
Webster111132
Jefferson Davis102731
Tunica99523
Claiborne99129
Benton93924
Humphreys93027
Kemper90423
Quitman77414
Franklin76219
Choctaw69817
Jefferson62827
Wilkinson62427
Sharkey49117
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 498076

Reported Deaths: 10094
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson716711387
Mobile36294737
Madison32616468
Tuscaloosa24340421
Montgomery22739519
Shelby22174218
Baldwin19873289
Lee15039157
Calhoun13832293
Morgan13753254
Etowah13390325
Marshall11448211
Houston10124264
Elmore9483190
Limestone9420138
St. Clair9022227
Cullman8984182
Lauderdale8612214
DeKalb8489175
Talladega7606165
Walker6585259
Jackson6545104
Autauga632492
Blount6236127
Colbert6001121
Coffee5264103
Dale4671107
Russell406933
Franklin399878
Covington3993106
Chilton3898103
Escambia379173
Tallapoosa3622143
Clarke344053
Chambers3431111
Dallas3422142
Pike293373
Marion288695
Lawrence284985
Winston258368
Bibb246160
Geneva240370
Marengo238857
Pickens225457
Barbour213651
Hale212269
Fayette202057
Butler201466
Henry183541
Cherokee178039
Monroe166739
Randolph164840
Washington156836
Macon147745
Crenshaw146255
Clay145954
Cleburne139841
Lamar133733
Lowndes132751
Wilcox122925
Bullock117336
Conecuh107024
Perry106127
Sumter99732
Coosa90224
Greene88532
Choctaw55323
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Partly Cloudy
61° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 61°
Columbus
Partly Cloudy
65° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 65°
Oxford
Partly Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 55°
Starkville
Partly Cloudy
63° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 63°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather