I didn’t understand it when this idea was floated two weeks ago and I don’t understand it now. What does Putin care at this point whether Obama pays his respects at the Kremlin or not? He’s already wrung more propaganda value from l’affaire Snowden than he’ll ever get from an official visit with the president and must have assumed when he decided to grant Snowden asylum that this would mean Obama would cancel on him. The question is why O hasn’t canceled already. It’ll look ridiculous even by his standards if he goes to Moscow anyway to kiss the ring after Putin’s embarrassed him this way.
If you want to send a message, albeit at considerable political risk, take Chuck Schumer’s advice. And no, I can’t believe I just wrote that either.
Sen. Charles Schumer, the Senate’s third-ranking Democrat, called Snowden, who was stuck in a Moscow airport for 39 days, a “coward who has chosen to run,” and advised the president to reconsider an upcoming trip to St. Petersburg, Russia, for the G-20 summit early next month.
“Russia has stabbed us in the back, and each day that Mr. Snowden is allowed to roam free is another twist of the knife,” Schumer, D-N.Y., wrote in a scathing statement. “Given Russia’s decision today, the president should recommend moving the G-20 summit.”
Bold but risky: What if O calls on the other G20 nations to snub Russia and they, er, ignore him? That’s the only thing that could make this humiliation worse. And it’s probably what would happen, given that European leaders are suddenly eager to prove to their own electorates that they’re pretend-opposed to things like mass domestic surveillance. If Obama decides to escalate diplomatically over Snowden, he’d have it to frame it in terms beyond Snowden himself — as a protest of Russian treatment of gays and dissidents like Alexei Navalny. At least then he’s got a shot at international support.
Speaking of Snowden, he declared today that “the law is winning” from his new home base of Russia. Yeah.