We all know that Vladimir Putin wanted Donald Trump to beat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. Putin admitted as much following their summit in Helsinki. Asked during his joint appearance with the President if he favored Trump, the Russian President responded, “Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal.”
But the media is so caught up in the drama of Trump and Putin centering around the persistent allegation that the American and Russian Presidents engaged in collusion that nobody seems to be asking the baseline question in all this: Why would Putin favor Trump?
If you’re on the left, of course, this is not a question at all. Leftists have fully convinced themselves that these two menaces to civilization teamed up somehow, some way, to deceive the American people and render Trump a Manchurian candidate programmed to overthrow his own country. Or some such thing.
But let’s focus on the normal, reasonable people who view this at-once intriguing and alarming relationship from a distance and try to figure it out rationally.
Benefits of a Clinton Presidency
On the surface, it would seem that Putin should have favored Hillary. After all, the Democrats’ well-established ideology includes pacifism, conflict avoidance, less military spending – thus strengthening Russia’s hand. Indeed, a Clinton presidency would likely have emboldened Russia to continue their expansionism into Ukraine and elsewhere.
Just as importantly, Hillary and the Democrats would have further expanded government regulation on the energy industry – building on the massive regulatory state advanced by President Obama. That would have made the U.S. less competitive in the one area which by itself props up the entire Russian economy: energy. Upwards of 50% of government revenues and 80% of Russian exports come from energy.
Indeed, absent a sudden transformation of her leftist worldview, it seems Hillary would certainly have been the superior choice for Putin on both the domestic and international issues of greatest significance to Russia.
So what gives?
Well, what if Putin’s relationship with Trump was based more on wanting Hillary to lose than wanting Trump to win? What if Putin had it out for Hillary, no matter her ultimate opponent, since Mrs. Clinton’s days as Secretary of State?
We all remember Hillary’s laughable “Russian reset” with the big red button and wrong Russian word. After that, nothing much seemed to change in the relationship between the U.S. and Russia other than Obama’s proclamation of the oxymoronic “leading from behind.”
But that all changed in 2011. After an election granting another term to the Russian strongman sparked worldwide protest, the then-Secretary of State condemned the election in no uncertain terms. Putin was furious, saying of Mrs. Clinton, “She said (we) were ‘dishonest and unfair,’ and that she provided ‘a signal’ to demonstrators working with the support of the U.S. State Department… We need to safeguard ourselves from this interference in our internal affairs.”
Do you really think Putin would simply let bygones be bygones and go ahead and get behind Hillary in 2016, placing greater weight behind her typically soft liberal policy prescriptions than her public condemnation of him? Not likely. Remember, this is a guy who doesn’t think twice about sending his political enemies to sleep with the fishes.
But given that Russia’s most pointed interference was not explicitly in favor of Trump, but aimed directly at Clinton, it is reasonable to assume the hacks and leaks emanating from Russia would have been just as helpful to Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio or any other GOP nominee as they were to Trump.
Think about the irony: While the elite media trips all over itself to “uncover” Putin’s interference – and of course collusion – in an American election, it may well be that it was actually Hillary’s meddling in a Russian election that turned on the spigot of hatred by Putin for the 2016 Democrat presidential nominee. And the rest, as they say, is history.
But the media’s twisted hatred for Trump reveals a myopia, a single-mindedness that leads them to do things exactly backwards – reach a determination first, then hunt for assorted, disconnected, and circumstantial facts to back up their predetermined conclusion. It is, quite obviously, the journalistic imperative to do it the other way around. If they had done their job properly, the press would have spent just as much time exploring Putin’s hatred for Hillary as they did his support of Trump.
When you clear away the fog and the insane talk of a president miserably incompetent on one hand but able to pull off the greatest theft in the history of politics on the other, it is at least as likely, if not more likely, that Putin favored Trump only because he happened to be Mrs. Clinton’s opponent.
With the whole world watching, Hillary Clinton openly questioned the legitimacy of Putin’s election. Whether she was right or not is largely irrelevant. What matters is that Putin believes she spit in his face… and that so few journalists seem interested in exploring this storyline of massive import right before their eyes.