Monday, January 02, 2017

January 2, 2017--24 Hours At the New York Times

It took David Sanger, chief Washington correspondent for the New York Times, all of 24 hours to switch the story line.

On Friday his front page article was about how Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, without overly joining forces, had "boxed in" Donald Trump by Obama's expelling 35 Russian diplomats, otherwise known as spies, and how it was expected that tempestuous Putin, as during the Cold War, would "retaliate" by doing much the same thing to American spies stationed in Russia.

Slipping into Soviet-era rhetoric, the Times party line proclaimed the boxing-in to be extra clever on Obama's part since what was Trump going to do--on his first day in office say to the Russians, who he appears eager to make a "deal" with, "Never mind. Your spies are welcome to return. I don't want this to inhibit my budding bromance with Putin."

If that came to pass we'd all be relieved to know that John McCain doesn't have his hands on the nuclear codes.

This first political reaction by the Times to the Obama moves, was that it effectively exposed Trump's naivety when it comes to Russia in the person of Putin, and would trigger an immediate retaliatory response by the hotblooded Russian president that would so sour any possibility for a real resetting of our relationship with Russia that Trump's efforts to cozy up to Putin would fail even before he was inaugurated and that would expose that Trump is as inept in dealing with the Russians as have been Obama and his succession of diplomats and secretaries of state.

Trump and the Republicans might manage to repeal Obamacare, chipping away at Obama's legacy, but this stealthy move by Obama would guarantee that Trump's presidency would start off with a whopper of a foreign policy failure. Not quite of Bay of Pigs or 9/11 or Syria magnitude, but still a big and embarrassing blunder.

Then a funny thing happened on the way to the boxing-in.

Putin did not retaliate. No U.S. spies were to be expelled. He said that wasn't a good or necessary idea because he didn't want to"create problems for American diplomats." The U.S. went low and he went high.

And then, undoubtedly not able to stifle a chuckle, added, "Furthermore, I invite all children of US diplomats accredited to Russia to the Christmas and New Year tree in the Kremlin." And then he signed the press release, in English, "Vladimir Putin."

Seizing the same moment, Trump tweeted--
Great move on the delay (by V. Putin). I always knew he was very smart.
Within minutes the Russian Embassy in Washington retweeted it.

And then within moments after that David Sanger and the New York Times had a different front page story--this time headlined: "From Russia, an Opening." "Risky," they warned, but an opening nonetheless. No longer so much a boxing-in.

Is it any wonder that a disproportionate number of chess grand masters are Russian?


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