Vladimir Putin is never at a loss for an analogy, right? NBC’s Megyn Kelly pressed the Russian president about interference in US elections, and noted that this conclusion has bipartisan support on Capitol Hill — even among Donald Trump’s supporters. Putin scoffed that “even children could hack an election,” and complained that anti-Russian sentiment in America reminds him of how people blame the Jews for everything.
Vladimir Putin again denied that Russia interfered in last year’s U.S. election, joking to NBC News’ Megyn Kelly that even her “underage daughter” could have been behind the hacking. …
“IP addresses can be invented — a child can do that! Your underage daughter could do that. That is not proof,” Putin replied.
He also said that U.S. officials blaming Russia “reminds me of anti-Semitism and blaming the Jews,” describing it as “disinformation.”
Putin also wondered aloud whether a pill existed to calm Russia hysteria when asked about any efforts Trump may have made to lift sanctions:
In the interview at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, a visibly irritated Putin also denied reports that the Trump team had moved to lift the sanctions in place against Russia.
He said that “this hysteria” about Trump and Russia “never seems to stop” and asked if a “pill” existed to stop the hysteria.
Putin contended that there were “no agreements whatsoever” to lift sanctions.
If patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, anti-semitism analogies must be the last refuge of the snickering antagonist. That’s precisely what Russia is — a point that Mitt Romney made in 2012 to much derision, only to be vindicated over the next several years. Anti-Semitism is entirely irrational, but concern over Russian espionage and attempts to undermine their geopolitical foes is not, even if it sometimes accelerates into hysteria. This is the rhetorical equivalent of sticking “-phobia” on the end of a word to shut down legitimate debate and concern over an issue. Next thing we’ll hear from Putin is a demand to end the “hate speech” towards his intelligence services. (That’s not entirely sarcastic, by the way.)
Russia under Putin and long before his arrival on the international scene has directed its intelligence and diplomatic services to penetrate and influence political operations and outcomes. So has the US; that was a regular feature of the Cold War. It’s not much of a surprise that they continue to do so, as the US is the nation best positioned to thwart Russian ambitions of empire. They may have been more successful than usual in the 2016 election, but that has to do with lax security at the DNC and a hysterical response afterward. The recommendation for a chill pill isn’t entirely a bad idea.
Besides, Putin’s not all that happy with the outcome anyway. In the same interview, he complains that NATO existed to keep the Soviet Union at bay, and should have been disbanded at the end of the Cold War. “If you’re not intending to attack anybody,” Putin argued about Trump’s demands for NATO partners to increase their contributions, “why increase your military spending?” That’s actually the opposite of what Russia hopes to gain from its influence attempts, which means that Putin just spent a lot of time and effort for not much — and that assumes an unlikelihood that they had any real impact at all.