Former president Obama came in for criticism after Robert Mueller released his report.
Fox News contributor Donna Brazile defended former President Barack Obama on Friday as he faced criticism for his response to Russian meddling during the 2016 election.
“I think they did everything they could without sounding all of the alarm bells,” she said of Obama’s administration. The subject came up as Fox News host Dana Perino asked Brazile on “The Daily Briefing” about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report — something Brazile said should be a “wake-up call” due to its troubling findings about Russian interference.
If Obama did more on Russian meddling, she said, critics would have accused him of trying to help his former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, in her race against then-candidate Donald Trump.
“He was in a box,” Brazile said of Obama.
That is the most outlandish defense of a president’s foreign policy I’ve ever heard.
First, what more effective response is available to a president than to ‘sound the alarm bells’? As a fire alarm that alerts people to danger, it is the easiest action to take, and achieves its effect most quickly.
Second, Brazile knows Obama imposed punitive sanctions on Russia after the election, for behavior he could have prevented before the election. He was willing to publicize what he knew, only after his party had lost. Wouldn’t Brazile like to say something about that?
Third, and most mystifying, what president would not want to help his party’s candidate win an election to succeed him? Who would criticize him if he did everything within his considerable power to help Clinton win? His critics, in fact, argued that he did not do enough to promote Clinton’s candidacy. He certainly deserves no praise for lazily watching his party suffer another ingnominious defeat.
Fourth, how would calling out the Russians have helped Clinton in the first place? Brazile is disingenuous here. What put Obama in a box was knowledge that if he drew attention to Russian meddling, he would also draw attention to Fusion GPS, Christopher Steele, large payments by Democratic donors to these dubious actors, hacking of DNC servers, publication of Podesta’s email messages, FBI meddling in the election, and so on. If I favor Clinton to win, I would think a long time about stirring that pot.
Obama is famous for his cool detachment. Only after Clinton lost, did his intelligence people persuade him to go public.
Moreover, most people, Democratic or otherwise, thought Clinton would win anyway. Why would Obama act to protect our democratic electoral processes, if on balance, the alarms would cause his party substantial harm? Obama’s had only one reason to act: countering the Russians was his responsibility. Yet throughout his presidency, if he could act responsibly or remain detached, he would choose the latter. He protects his image first. If duty and image coincide, he acts. If duty and image conflict, he sits back to see how things play out.
If you as president believe Russian interference is a lot of trouble for Moscow with little result, if you believe you need Russia’s help for agreements like the Iran deal, if you have formed a habit of mollifying Putin throughout your two terms, if you believe your candidate has a strong advantage in any case, you sit back. Obama is famous for his cool detachment. Only after Clinton lost, did his intelligence people persuade him to go public.