It turns out that Barack Obama does indeed have a line in the sand – and it’s the WikiLeaks dumps that are battering Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and damaging to his legacy.
In a recent interview with “Meet the Press” anchor Chuck Todd, Joe Biden said that the U.S. would launch a “secret” cyber counter-attack against Russia in retaliation for their hacking into the DNC and other individual email accounts.
That threat may have translated into John Kerry asking Ecuador, which is hosting Julian Assange in their UK embassy, to sever the WikiLeaks head’s Internet connection. Ecuador has announced that it did remove Assange’s access to the web; the State Department has denied involvement.
Because WikiLeaks has numerous back-ups, the cut-off hasn’t slowed the steady release of embarrassing revelations about Clinton and her campaign.
If that is the sum total of Obama’s retaliatory repertoire, it is no wonder the Russians are acting with impunity around the globe.
If Biden is right, President Obama is moved to confront Russia not over hundreds of thousands being slaughtered in Syria – not because of the barrel bombs or chlorine gas – nor over Russia’s takeover of Crimea from Ukraine, with whom we have a security treaty.
He is not inspired by Russia selling a missile defense system to Iran over U.S. opposition, guaranteeing the security of Tehran’s inevitable nuclear program.
He is unmoved by Russian threats to shoot down our airplanes and their attacks on U.S. allies in Syria.
None of those insults and aggressions has moved our president. Instead, he is teed off that the Russians may be the source of embarrassing email leaks – leaks that confirm, for instance, that Obama lied when he said he didn’t know anything about Hillary Clinton’s private email server. (He had been regularly communicating with her via the Clintonemail.com address, using an alias.) Or that his White House did not police Hillary Clinton trolling for dollars from foreign governments while she was Secretary of State.
Well, everyone has a tipping point.
There are skeptics who doubt that Russia has anything to do with the steady drip, drip of WikiLeaks revelations. The blame was thrown on Moscow almost immediately after the initial dump of emails that showed the DNC in cahoots with the Clinton camp, tipping the scales in favor of Bernie Sanders.
That news shocked Bernie Sanders supporters, who were only grudgingly signing onto Hillary’s campaign and who are so essential to putting the former first lady over the top. So devastating were those incriminating messages that the head of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was forced to resign just days before she was due to gavel in the Democratic Convention.
With brilliant sleight-of-hand, operatives in the Clinton camp hinted the leaks came from Russia, and deftly turned the spotlight to an absurd narrative involving Trump’s tenuous ties to Vladimir Putin.
They suggested, then as now, that Trump and Putin were working hand-in-glove to subvert U.S. democracy.
They give Trump far too much credit. Not only does he appear to have no real connection to the Russian government, he has also been astonishingly unable to capitalize on the leaks, so caught up is he in distracting and unnecessary confrontations.
More recently, intelligence chief James Clapper formally accused the Russians of orchestrating the hacks into the emails of the DNC and other figures which have been published by WikiLeaks, DCLeaks.com and Guccifer 2.0.
This is the same James Clapper who in 2014 baldly denied to Congress that the NSA was collecting metadata from Americans; that was before Edward Snowden revealed that the U.S. government was indeed collecting such information. That lie earned Clapper threats of perjury charges and a call for his resignation from Senator Rand Paul.
It could well be the Russians who are behind the torrent of embarrassing emails. Hillary Clinton in 2011 angered Putin by accusing him of perpetrating fraud in Russia’s parliamentary elections. How satisfying it must be for Putin to reveal information that shows Mrs. Clinton trying to rig our elections.
The Clinton campaign, with incredible chutzpah, recently ripped into WikiLeaks and the media for covering the damaging emails. Given that any number of email chains describe the embarrassing lengths to which national media figures and major news organizations have been willing to go to help out the Clinton candidacy, this faux outrage is masterful.
Hillary Clinton’s message to voters: Yes, I may have said and done terrible things but because Putin is behind these leaks, you should vote for me anyway.
As a campaign theme, that’s certainly tops “Stronger Together.”