We put ‘elite’ in quotes in the headline. Many people who like to think of themselves as part of an ‘elite’ really are not. It has been my experience that many people who embrace the term are really not smarter or more capable than the average reasonably intelligent person. They often however do have the right parents.
But this crew is indeed fixated on “Russiagate” because Trump is a direct threat, in different ways, to their perceived status. It’s one of the things that I like about Trump. I love that these people in particular can’t stand him.
Saying this of course we must always also say that Trump is a very mixed bag.
Below The Nation presents a very even handed examination of “Russiagate.”
(From The Nation)
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that Trump’s post-Helsinki approval rating slightly increased to 45 percent. While the uptick does not necessarily signal an embrace of Trump’s behavior, it is not difficult to see why his numbers did not plummet. In a recent Gallup pollon problems facing the country, the “Situation with Russia” was such a marginal concern that it did not even register. While an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found that 64 percent believe Trump has not been tough enough on Russia, it also saw a near-even split on whether Putin is a foe or an ally, and 59 percent support for better relations.
The gap between elite and public priorities highlights an endemic problem that long predates Trump. Since his election, however, the elite fixation on alleged Russian meddling and the president’s suspected collusion has exacerbated that divide…
…Fixation on the alleged Russian threat does not just obscure our own past. With the attendant suspicion of Trump’s potential subordination to Putin, it is obscuring the reality in front of us. Anyone paying attention to Trump’s actual policies cannot escape the conclusion that his administration “has been much tougher on Russia than any in the post-Cold War era” (Daniel Vajdich of the NATO-funded Atlantic Council), wherein “U.S. policy toward Russia has, if anything, hardened under [Trump’s] watch” (Brookings fellow and former State Department official Jeremy Shapiro). The new Pentagon budget earmarks $6.5 billion for the European Deterrence Initiative—a military program aimed at confronting Russia in Eastern Europe—a 91 percent increase over President Obama’s last year in office. Following Trump’s decision to sell anti-tank missiles to Ukraine—a move Obama resisted—the Pentagon has just announced $200 million in new military assistance. The NATO summit right before Helsinki prompted widespread suspicions that Trump was undermining the transatlantic alliance, possibly at Putin’s behest. All seemed to overlook what Trump actually did: openly criticize Russia’s prized Nord Stream 2 gas project with Germany and badger NATO members to increase military spending. At a post-Helsinki Senate hearing, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo touted Trump’s “massive defense buildup that threatens Vladimir Putin’s regime” and reaffirmed that the United States will never recognize the Russian annexation of Crimea.
This consistent record of Trump directly contradicting Putin’s agenda is inconvenient to a collusion-and-kompromat hypothesis, so it is little wonder that it is overlooked. Instead of focusing on policy, the press has engaged in commentary more appropriate for an ice-skating performance.