For the Democratic Party, history began and ended with the election of George W. Bush. Nothing had happened before him. Every world crisis began with him and would only come to an end when the Democratic Party finally squeezed one of its own into the White House.
If there was a problem, Bush had caused it. If another country hated America, it was Bush’s fault. Bush alienated Europe, Russia, Asia, the Middle East and even parts of Antarctica.
It was all his fault, the media, academia and angry Trotskyite grandmothers marching for peace and tyranny in San Francisco agreed. Books were written and movies were made. Cartoons were scrawled and songs were written.
It was all Bush’s fault.
It never occurred to the Democrats, even as they were making excuses for every tyrant from Saddam to Putin to Ahmadinejad, that the sum of all evil might not be George W. Bush.
When Hillary Clinton presented Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with a misspelled Reset Button, it wasn’t the Russian end of the arrangement that was being reset.
Putin had been running the country through various offices all along. Despite his change of title, nothing significant was going to change in Moscow. It was the United States that was being reset.
The Obama campaign was a giant reset button. Among all its other resets, resetting the economy, resetting welfare, resetting the ocean levels and resetting the military, it was also going to reset America’s relationship with the world. Obama promised to “rebuild” American alliances in keeping with the leftist theme that everything wrong with the world could be blamed on President Bush’s alienation of the international community by riding through Baghdad like a unilateral cowboy on a pale horse.
When Putin invaded Georgia, the New York Times, among other mainstream media outlets, blamed President Bush. The Times collected negative quotes about “Bush’s aggressive response to the Russian incursion into Georgia.”
A year earlier however it had accused Bush of responding to Putin’s provocations with “timid equanimity.”
The men and women of the New York Times might not have been able to decide whether Bush was too soft or too tough on Putin, whether he was provoking him too much or not standing up to him enough, but they could say with certainty that whatever President Bush was doing had to be wrong.
It was wrong because Bush was doing it. Obama and Hillary however would get it right.
Instead of holding Putin accountable, the Reset Button was another piece of Blame Bush theater which sent the message that Obama and Hillary were blaming Bush for the breakdown of ties, instead of Putin.
Putin’s invasion of Georgia was forgotten. His international assassination of dissidents, the radioactive trails through the United Kingdom, his ties to terrorist regimes and his support for Iran were all swept into a big red folder marked “Bush’s Fault.” The folder was dumped into a deep drawer at the offices of the New York Times and no one looked it at again until Putin “unexpectedly” invaded Ukraine.
There was nothing unexpected about the invasion. Just as there was nothing unexpected about Iran developing nuclear weapons even when their apologists in the media and the government said that it couldn’t possibly be taking place.
The unexpected in foreign affairs is the intrusion of reality into the leftist narrative. It’s the brick through the window and the mugging in broad daylight. A little time passes and everyone gives in to the leftist narrative and forgets until it happens all over again because reality is surprisingly persistent.
The Blame Bush caucus needed to believe that Putin’s behavior was Bush’s fault instead of Putin’s fault. They needed to believe that Saddam Hussein, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chavez and countless other citizens of the world were reacting to Bush, instead of acting the way that they normally would.
Blinded by their hatred for Bush, they assumed that the world’s worst villains also hated Bush. It didn’t occur to them that they might hate America. Instead Putin, Chavez and Ahmadinejad became extensions of their political grudge match with the President of the United States. Their petty geopolitical view reduced the affairs of the world to a world that shared their hatred for Bush.
And that made it impossible for them to predict the actions of America’s enemies.
When Solidarity was in crisis in Poland, President Reagan didn’t wait for Russian tanks to show up in Warsaw; instead he took preemptive steps to avert a Russian invasion. Obama never even saw the invasion coming. Why would he? The last time Putin invaded a country, it had been Bush’s fault.
Putin’s invasion of Ukraine shouldn’t have come as a surprise. But days before the invasion, the mainstream media was claiming that it would never happen even though everyone from the President of Georgia down to Khrushchev’s great-granddaughter had predicted that it would.
While the Democrats couldn’t see past Bush, Putin was acting on centuries’ worth of grudges and ambitions. Blaming Bush for everything had freed Putin to act. It erased his past track record and assigned the blame for it to Republican cowboy diplomacy. It gave him the element of surprise and it’s no surprise that he used it to invade Ukraine and humiliate Obama.
The Democrats had damned Reagan as a warmonger, but he was actually a realist. He understood what the USSR might do when it saw Poland slipping away and took steps to avert it.
Obama and the rest of the Democratic Party lacked any similar ability to soberly assess Russia’s motives.
Had the Democrats been able to let go of their obsession with Bush, they would have been able to head off the crisis in Ukraine. Instead they assumed that their relationship with Putin was going well, not because it was, but because the only reason it had ever been bad was because of George W. Bush.
The Russian government understood this dynamic and exploited it. It knew that Hillary didn’t come bearing a Reset Button because she wanted to improve relations with Russia. Instead she needed a tangible demonstration of how she was reversing Bush’s foreign policy failures to prep for her own presidential campaign.
And the Russians played along. They understood that to the Democrats they were only counters in a domestic political campaign and that Washington, D.C. had become a thoroughly unserious place.
And they weren’t the only ones making that assessment.
China’s escalating militarism and Iran’s nuclear manipulations exploit a profoundly unserious White House less interested in keeping America safe than in blaming Bush.
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