Barack Obama

Obama Notes Stances on Russia Depend on 'What's Politically Expedient'—Not Talking About Himself

Bemoaning shift on Russia by Republicans, but not his own or that of fellow-travelers.

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White House

With just 35 days left in office, President Barack Obama says he's vowing to do something about alleged Russian interference in the U.S. presidential elections. What that something is (perhaps more sanctions, perhaps more U.S. support for democracy groups in Russia) remains to be seen.

Whatever the president decides to do, it's unlikely to include Congress, which is controlled by Republicans who would mostly prefer to wait for Donald Trump to get into office before doing anything on anything. Additionally, it appears that the intelligence community that purportedly decided Russia was attempting to interfere in the elections is not that interested, at this moment, to talk about that except through anonymous sources to the Washington Post and other outlets. A Congressional hearing scheduled for yesterday on the issue was cancelled after the CIA declined to show up. According to the anonymous sources, all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies are in agreement on the secret report. What the role of agencies like Coast Guard Intelligence could be is still unclear.

"All we've heard from the intelligence community over the last several months is that they could not say that there was any attempt to undermine Hillary Clinton, to help Donald Trump," King said on Fox News. "The consensus was that there was an attempt by the Russians to put a cloud over the election, to create disunity. Well, that's what's happening right now, but it's the intelligence community that's doing it."

For his part, Obama in an interview on NPR this morning complained about the inconsistency of political positions in regards to Russia, and specifically Republicans. "The irony of all this, of course, is that for most of my presidency, there's been a pretty sizable wing of the Republican Party that has consistently criticized me for not being tough enough on Russia," Obama said. "Some of those folks during the campaign endorsed Donald Trump, despite the fact that a central tenet of his foreign policy was we shouldn't be so tough on Russia. And that kind of inconsistency, I think, makes it appear, at least, that their particular position on Russia on any given day depends on what's politically expedient."

But what does that say about President Obama and the Obama administration's positions on Russia? Four years ago, when Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney called Russia the U.S.'s number one geopolitical foe, Obama and company, and the same media now helping push Russophobia, mocked him. "His comments display either a shocking lack of knowledge about international affairs or just craven politics," The New York Times insisted. "Either way, they are reckless and unworthy of a major presidential contender." Trump's more mellow approach to Russia is also, apparently, unworthy—it's hard to imagine any Republican making any kind of comment on Russia the Times would not find unworthy.

At the Democratic National Convention in 2012, meanwhile, then-Senator and now Secretary of State John Kerry, also laid into Romney for looking at Russia as a geopolitical foe, calling it a "preposterous" idea. "Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from Alaska," Kerry quipped. "Mitt Romney talks like he's only seen Russia by watching Rocky IV." The Democrats even sold the quote on a poster. By 2014, Kerry was resorting to telling Russia they weren't in the Cold War-era movie Rocky IV.

The problem for Obama is his protestation about the inconsistency of Republicans' Russia position will come off as politically expedient itself so long as he refuses to address his own inconsistencies, and how he and Kerry and others got to their 2016 position on Russia from their 2012 position.

Throughout the campaign, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton promised a more aggressive approach to Russia than the Obama administration had ever took. At one debate, she even admitted she was interested in imposing a no-fly zone over Syria in order to gain leverage over Russia and force the country to the negotiating table. She had previously acknowledged such actions would cost civilian lives. All this without ever once articulating a specific, substantive, national security purpose for U.S. intervention in Syria.

Obama understood Americans' war-weariness in 2012. So he took credit for ending the war in Iraq when he had tried to expand it, and framed Afghanistan as a war that was ending even though it will now continue past his presidency. These were politically expedient lies to tell to an American population not all that interested in war. Clinton disposed of even the pretense of being a skeptic about war, effectively promising more of it when she won. It's unsurprising she lost, and a frightening revealed preference that she refused to tone down her interventionist rhetoric on wars of choice or take responsibility for past interventionist mistakes even as she insisted Trump posed a unique threat to democracy.

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  1. What that something is (perhaps more sanctions, perhaps more U.S. support for democracy groups in Russia) remains to be seen.

    It’s gonna be, uh, great. Just tremendous, believe me.

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  2. So I see 1980s finally called Obama?

    1. I like to imagine any call from the 80s has synth music playing in the background and they ask you what dystopia did we end up with, Escape from New York or Terminator?

      1. It’s like you skipped the 80’s in your travels…

        I would nominate Brazil, Brave New World, or 1984.

        Honorable mention to Videodrome, along with They Live and The Running Man.

      2. Nah, the Miami Vice theme. Jan Hammer!

  3. it’s hard to imagine any Republican making any kind of comment on Russia the Times would not find unworthy.

    There, removed unnecessary verbiage.

  4. “The consensus was that there was an attempt by the Russians to put a cloud over the election, to create disunity”

    Pretty sure the hag far outdid anything the Russkis could do in that regard.
    Wha’d they do, hide her cane so she’d fall down?

    1. So the aide that held her up was named Caine?

      1. Kaine, but it didn’t work.

      2. Kaine. It’s like you people don’t even news.

        1. I admit, I mostly get Fake News.

          1. You’ve been reading the New York Times?

            1. I have one copy of that newspaper. I got it because I took Amtrak business class to NYC, they put one on every damn seat (even though we were nowhere near capacity).

              1. Maybe they were just lining the seats? They don’t want business class shit all over the place when the passengers detrain?

  5. Dickhead isn’t going to do jack shit, because there was no “Russian interference” in the election. It’s a complete fiction, just like the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

    1. It’s a complete fiction, but I can see him doing something anyway. #1 to maintain The Narrative, and #2 to stir up a shitstorm with a major power right before leaving office that the Dems will then blame on Trump.

      1. “and #2 to stir up a shitstorm with a major power right before leaving office that the Dems will then blame on Trump”

        That’s not going to fly. Putin will probably respect Trump. He has never respected Obama. Also, Trump has indicated he wants the USA to have a better relationship with Russia, so I don’t see any big conflict with Russia arising out of a Trump presidency.

        1. “Trump has indicated he wants the USA to have a better relationship with Russia”

          HA! Proof Trump “FORCED” Russia to do this!

          /prog

        2. He has never respected Obama.

          That’s because Putin is a racist!

          1. That’s plausible. Still doesn’t change the fact.

      2. the left is already blaming Trump for China doing what China always does, why not add Russia on top of that even though Russia is also only doing what Russia has always done.

    2. Iraq had gas up until a few weeks before the invasion.

      I agree with you about Dickhead being a dick head and Russian Interference being the new-new-new-global warming.

    3. Obama has basically been doing Trump-style trolling (with longer sentences) since he’s been a national figure. I believe their hacks call it the “stray voltage” strategy.

    4. Someone shins light on illegal activity. Media attacks man with flashlight. No need for proof he did it.

      *face palm*

      1. The media were the ones engaging in the unethical activity. It’s like the Mob attacking a prosecutor after he indicts their Don.

    5. Even at this late date, the most serious “Russian interference” alleged is passing along emails to the public that show underhanded dealings of Team Clintonista?

      BTW, why did the FBI tell the RNC that there were hacking attempts, but none were successful? Was that an Obama gambit at giving them a false sense of security or was it the truth?

  6. It’s pretty clear at this point that the ‘leaks’ to the Washington Post are coming from the administration. Why else is the CIA refusing to discuss this ‘secret report’ with Congress?

    They can never talk about violating ‘democratic norms’, again.

    Damn it, stop making me defend Trump

    1. Damn it, stop making me defend Trump

      Seriously. It’s getting tiresome.

      There is plenty of real stuff to criticize about Trump, yet everyone seems to have decided to go with some made up or highly exaggerated bullshit about racists and Russians.

      1. The problem for Democrats is, since Trump is a Democrat almost any policy proposal he makes is something they have already proposed.

  7. With just 35 days left in office, President Barack Obama says he’s vowing to do something about alleged Russian interference in the U.S. presidential elections. What that something is (perhaps more sanctions, perhaps more U.S. support for democracy groups in Russia) remains to be seen.

    Whatever he does, you can bet that it will be as decisive and effective as any other move he has made with regard to Russia. I’m sure Putin is quaking in his boots.

    1. Its the final surprise move in the 5-dimensional chess game.

      1. The only way Obama is playing 5-dimensional chess is if he’s secretly a free market nationalist who wants to utterly sabotage the left establishment.

        The more probable explaination is that he’s a subpar narcissist.

    2. Note that the quaking is caused by a vain attempt to suppress wild fits of laughter.

    3. They crossed a red line! A RED FUCKING LINE!

    4. Well, it is kind of not surprising that Obama claims he knew about this months ago, but didn’t do anything when he thought Clinton would win. Suddenly he gins up this jive just in time for the EC vote.

  8. “With just 35 days left in office, President Barack Obama says he’s vowing to do something about alleged Russian interference in the U.S. presidential elections”

    Sorry, dear leader, like with most things you’ve been going on about for the last 8 years, this isn’t real outside of being an excuse for the incompetence of you and your political party.

  9. What the role of agencies like Coast Guard Intelligence could be is still unclear.

    Oh, hey, come on.

    1. Every Coast Guardsman I’ve met has told me what a vanguard of the nation’s defense they are.

  10. Obama should just draw a red line and tell Putin about it.

    1. Is this related to the “adult” coloring book craze?

  11. RIght on cue…
    Hillary claims Comey, Putin cost her the election

    Needless to say this is the banner at NY Times, with Aleppo presumably column 3 below the fold on the international section.

    1. Which is why Fake News? needs to be banned, so Real News? like this is never questioned. That’s what you do when there’s a Consensus?.

    2. “It was my turn, fair and square! Waaaaahhhhh, just give it to me, it’s mine!”.

    3. Hillary claims Comey, Putin cost her the election

      Hillary who? The most famous person I never really knew?

      Don’t go away mad, just go away.

    4. She presumes and importance in Putin’s life which is highly unlikely.
      She’s a dislikable human and Putin probably feels the same as most of the world; those who ‘like’ her are those paid to do so.

    5. You all missed this gem:

      Mrs. Clinton has kept a low profile in the weeks since her defeat, mostly appearing on social media in photographs by passers-by who have spotted her walking her dogs near her home in Chappaqua, N.Y.

      Yea, you know, random passers-by’s who were previously photographed with her at Democratic fundraisers and such…just totally random, GUYS!

      1. I like the dual-level idiocy of showing up on social media as being low profile. It’s like appearing on ‘live television from an undisclosed location’ only for millennials.

      2. Who happened to pass by with a professional photographer to take nicely composed pictures.

      3. If the dog isn’t pissing on her leg, it’s a faked photo.

        1. They can smell evil.

    6. It’s that kind of take-responsibility, buck-stops-here leadership we are being deprived of.

  12. it appears that the intelligence community that purportedly decided Russia was attempting to interfere in the elections is not that interested, at this moment, to talk about that except through anonymous sources

    the hilarious part = the normal justification for not sharing something with congress would be “the don’t want it leaked”

    given that they’ve already leaked the shit out of it, the only justification now is “they don’t actually want it on the record”

    According to the anonymous sources, all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies are in agreement on the secret report.

    Not according to Reuters

    “”Exclusive: Top U.S. spy agency has not embraced CIA assessment on Russia hacking – sources”

    The ODNI oversees all the other agencies, and makes the final call on what is credible enough to act on. Strange that no one else other than Reuters seems interested in their lack of faith in the CIA’s assessment.

    Oh, and the FBI wasn’t really into it either.

    Oh, but lets just handwave those dissenters away and declare “consensus” anyway. Because Journalism.

    1. The dissenters are obviously all Putin agents. Or even worse they are deplorable Trump agents

    2. Perhaps displaying the fact that there is no evidence would ruin the narrative. We don’t want the media to look like dishonest hacks over this, do we now?

    3. Also, *17* intelligence agencies?

      1. clearly they’re not up to date with the fact that the magic number is now 23. We need to create six more so we can complain that nobody needs 23 intelligence agencies.

        1. 23 has been a magic number for a long time. 23-skidoo!

        2. I thought it was like SEAL team 6. You just pick a high-ish sounding number so the other team thinks, “Holy Shit! There are, or were, 5 other teams like this out there?!?!?”

  13. A Congressional hearing scheduled for yesterday on the issue was cancelled after the CIA declined to show up.

    John Brennan doesn’t give a fuck about your silly Congress. Seriously, Congress, start acting like you are in charge, which you are.

  14. Is there anything the Dems have said in the last year that wasn’t a complete fiction?

    Shitforbrains is going to draw a red line?

    1. The entire ideology of the left is fiction. Why would they say things to the contrary?

      1. Yeah, starts with a false premise, or a collection of them. Even if you prop it up with actual facts they’re still facts supporting a false premise. And facts are both expensive to collect and can cost you when used by the other side.

    2. I think they are pretty consistent with the sun rising in the East, but that’s only because East-deniers don’t have many votes.

  15. I have yet to see any evidence that Russia “hacked” the US elections

    I have seen from the DNC, Podesta, Project Veritas, WikiLeaks etc that the Democrats were hacking the US election process

    And when comes to the DNC hacks, it proved that the DNC was in Hillary’s pocket, to the extent that Obama himself had to step in and fire Debbie Wasserman Schultz as chair of the DNC and even then the next day Hillary hired here as an “honorary chairman” of her campaign. I guess the word honor has a different meaning to Hillary then it does to me

  16. The irony of all this, of course, is that for most of my presidency, there’s been a pretty sizable wing of the Republican Party that has consistently criticized me for not being tough enough on Russia,” Obama said. “Some of those folks during the campaign endorsed Donald Trump, despite the fact that a central tenet of his foreign policy was we shouldn’t be so tough on Russia. And that kind of inconsistency, I think, makes it appear, at least, that their particular position on Russia on any given day depends on what’s politically expedient.”

    The president is afraid of Eddie Munster and Cecil the Turtle.

    1. Isn’t that ironic?

  17. I really miss the Friday caption contest. Any chance that could be brought back? There don’t need to be prizes that nobody is going to win involved.

    1. Yeah, those were actually fun – even when I couldn’t think of anything.

    2. Start your own caption contest. Gosh. Watch, I’ll show you how to do it.

  18. I almost forgot Obama was still in the White House; a more lame-yet-arrogantly-duplicitous duck there never was.

    1. That’s only because you haven’t seen a lame duck Hillary yet, and hopefully we never will.

    2. Trump has just steamrollered him. So delicious.

    3. a more lame-yet-arrogantly-duplicitous duck there never was.

      I recommend you continue to avoid the Looney Tunes Show then.

  19. 1. Obama politicized the intelligence during the election. He demanded Congress condemn Russia based on no real evidence. Wanted Republicans to go along. They refused.
    2. After this, he had the heads of his agencies publicly blame Russia for the report and leaked a ton of shit to the media on Russia.
    3. Hillary and the DNC initially refused to let the FBI to investigate the hacking (see the earlier link John posted on them ignoring the FBI’s early calls under the pretext that they thought they were being cranked). Yet, they had already started blaming Russia leaking it to the media. Laughably, Podesta condemns the FBI for supposedly taking her email server more seriously than Russian interference.
    4. They keep talking about sophisticated tools being the give away that this was Russia when it the access was gained by a simple phishing email. They gave the god damn password away.
    5. Obama is out of office in a month. I’m truly baffled that he has decided to throw around a threat now in December. He knows it has no teeth, but it does fuel a narrative that discredits Trump.

    1. Then when it comes to Wikileaks, anonymous sources say that the actors who gave them the files have been identified, and that they aren’t state actors of Russia, but close enough. Of course, we have no clue who those individuals are.

      Wikileaks has stopped just short of naming their source, telling us explicitly where the drop occurred and that this was an individual with legal access to the files. It was a Democrat.

      Who to believe?

    2. Putin is a super villain genius, the likes of which has only been seen before in Hollywood films. Not only did he ‘hack’ the election, a term which no one has yet figured out what it means, but he’s also apparently convinced most Americans to think that it’s all bullshit.

      1. While he shares many aspects of super-villainy, the cartoonishness of what has been attributed hides those acts and actions that need to be addressed.

      2. He not only hacked the US elections, but also Bretix, plus the recent Italian elections, plus he is the one causing discontent in Europe over those wonderful rapefuges.

        I would not be surprised if inauguration day when Trump is sworn in, he then pulls of his wig and mask, revealing that he is actually Putin.

        There is nothing that Putin cannot do

        1. I can’t help but to feel that Putin is enjoying all this free attention to a great extent.

          1. Right up until he evokes the ire of Chuck Norris.

  20. Caption contest!

    “Seriously, start using the squatty potty.”

    1. Thought bubbles:
      Obama “I got this, I got this, I got this.”
      Putin “How many cities would get nuked if I snapped his neck right now?”

      1. You’re disqualified because this isn’t a thought bubble contest.

    2. Obama: Excuse me, sir. Would you please stop doing bad things?
      Putin: Eat a cock, darkie.

    3. Technically, *I* should be on the right and you should be on the left, technically.

    4. Putin: “Hey Barry, the 1980’s called, they and I want a real man to be President. Where’s the Wookie? I bet she would be a challenge to wrassle.”
      Obama: “Stop it right now or I will sick my horde of idiots upon you, knave!”

    5. Putin: I need you to do something for me. Tell Uncle Joe I need a quarter of “Purple Trainwreck.” Vlad feels like partying tonight.

      Obama: Can I come?

      Putin: Hell no!

  21. There has to be some portion of normal Democrat voters that see through this nonsense and are getting annoyed with their own establishment/media, right? Not the true believers or the SWPLs that cry themselves to sleep every night, but the adult rank and file who support Ds, but generally like America, like jobs, and just want a normal suburban / semi-urban life?

    I have seen a few who don’t like Trump, but are in the “get over it / deal with it” camp. Even if that’s like 10-20% of Ds you’d think that would have some kind of negative impact.

    1. My FB feed has been pretty quiet about the Russian hacking nonsense. That leads me to guess most of my prog friends don’t really buy it. Of course I turned all the most annoying people off a long time ago.

  22. Here’s the score: troops back in Iraq,troops fighting the Afgan war,the hell hole that is Libya and droning a dozen countries that we are not at war with.

    1. And the hag lost in the EC; I don’t care about her time of possession.

  23. “The consensus was that there was an attempt by the Russians to put a cloud over the election, to create disunity. Well, that’s what’s happening right now, but it’s the intelligence community that’s doing it.”

    Oh, for the love of Christ! The crisis that wasn’t.

    How did they interfere? Did they stuff ballot boxes? Hold guns to voters heads? Hack ballot boxes that aren’t online? No, at the very most, they released information that one candidate would have prefered remain covered up. Information that was, in all likelihood, true.

    THE

    HORROR!

    Like the US has never attempted to influence elections throughout the world…

    PLEASE!

    This is the left in deep denial over unexpectedly getting their clocks cleaned. Couldn’t be that our positions suck and we ran the most hated cunt ever to walk the earth…musta been the Russians.

    1. Like the US has never attempted to influence elections throughout the world…

      Lol, yeah, no shit. We sent advisors over the Russia in the 90s to help get Yeltsin elected, and all of a sudden we’re supposed to be up in arms because the Russians *might* have hacked the DNC and phished Podesta’s account to release embarrassing emails? Christ, Hillary and Obama were complicit in the Arab Spring that’s turned two Middle Eastern nations into failed states, cherry-picking which Middle Eastern dictators we’d choose to support.

      I told this prog on Derpbook that our hands are hardly clean here and that influencing elections if it works in our nation’s interest is a fine stance to take–as long as we’re honest about that position. Fanning our face about covert election influences at this point is complete hypocrisy.

    2. How did they interfere? Did they stuff ballot boxes? Hack ballot boxes that aren’t online?

      Certainly looks that way.

      Oh, you meant the Russians, not the Democrats.

  24. Russophobia is racism. They’re all racists and they should be ashamed. Half the country. I can barely believe it.

    I was at the grocery store and one of the fellow customers in line with me at the checkout saw the cover of one of the magazines and asked loudly “Does anyone here really believe that Russia didn’t create this outcome?” She was wearing a hat emblazoned with the stylized letter “H” on it, so I knew she was a racist.

    Nobody said anything. I was literally sweating and shaking and couldn’t even. I ran to the restroom to vomit, leaving my groceries in my haste to get out of there.

    Why do they have to be like this? Russia is a nation of peace. Why couldn’t they understand what I’m going through every time they spread their Russophobic views out in the open like they’re not racists?

  25. “Russia challenges US to prove campaign hacking claims or shut up”
    […]
    “Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was “indecent” of the United States to “groundlessly” accuse Russia of intervention in the US election campaign, Russian state news agency Tass reported.
    “They should either stop talking about that or produce some proof at last. Otherwise it all begins to look unseemly,” Peskov reportedly said about the latest accusations that Russia was responsible for hacker attacks.”
    http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/16/…..index.html

    Getting lectured on manners by the Russkis has gotta hurt!

  26. And, let’s just say that even if this was the Russians who leaked everything, it’s the perfect comeuppance for Obama and Hillary. From Obama arrogantly inviting Trump to the White House Correspondent Dinner to ‘roast’ him and smugly stating that he’d never be president to Hillary opining without regard for the consequences about Russia’s elections. Or Obama mocking Romney for pointing to Russia in 2012. Fuck’em.

  27. The Russians muddied the election by telling the truth about the Democratic candidate (supposedly the Russians but who knows?). That’s not a very good argument for why we should be pissed.

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  31. There’s no way to discuss something like this without acknowledging the shortcomings of collectivism and the folly of generalization. If you swap the parties names, and ask yourself if the criticism is still true, you can see it. “Russia” doesn’t appear to threaten “us” any more frequently than “we” threaten “them” (maybe less).
    When Osama bin Laden’s manifesto was published, it sounded virtually identical to Bush’s speech of the same era (“he started it” and “they hate us for our values”).
    The truth is, every culture, country, and large collective group has its fools, wise council, hot-heads, liberals, conservatives, libertarians, and authoritarians. Many of them are assets to the group and some are failures and liabilities. We have more to gain by seeking out the “good” people as individuals, than we do from tarring the whole group with the same brush we would use for the individuals we don’t like or who are getting headlines for their bad actions. I certainly don’t want to be judged by the actions of Congress or the President. “Russia” or “China” or “America” are collective groups that are too big to sustain most generalizations (a generalization I can defend).

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