The title from that old James Bond movie can be applied to President Trump’s private tete-a-tete with Vladimir Putin. I am generally loathe to use pejoratives or vulgarities in these commentaries, but the low level of bogus and irrelevant news analysis leading into and out of the meeting in Helsinki can only be described as a lot of crap.
A great deal of airtime was wasted on giving meaning to the words “summit” or “meeting.” In the opinion of the anti-Trump media, the use of the word “meeting” was an attempt to play down the importance of the encounter and to lower expectations of any outcome. For the rational-minded world beyond the biased New York/D.C. media bubble, the use of the words represent a distinction without a difference. They are fungible.
In terms of lowering expectations, Trump was pretty clear that he had no illusions about any outcomes. He said he was not sure how the meeting – or was it summit? – would turn out. In characteristic fashion, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “We’ll have to see.”
In their pre-meeting determination to declare the thing that happened in Helsinki a total failure for America and a huge success for Russia, the elite media and their pseudo-intellectual contributors concocted their own expectations based on establishment traditions. There will be no signed agreement – no communique. Well, at least they did not think so because they admitted they did not know. Ultimately, there was not one and no one said there would be.
They claimed the pre-ordained failure was due to Trump going into the gathering unprepared against a cagey and crafty Putin. But … they did not know how much Trump had actually prepared.
They resurrected the canard that they used to undermine the President in Singapore. Trump was giving Putin exposure on the national state. One might proffer that specious argument had Trump been meeting with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain, but Putin is already among the best known and most influential – for good or ill – leaders on earth.
Trump and Putin had met at two times previously at international summits. Imagine, “meeting” at a “summit.” He should have a pretty good read on the Russian despot.
The talking heads brought up their dubious claim that Trump says nice things only about Putin. This leads to their favorite speculation that Putin has something on Trump. Really? Anyone paying attention has heard Trump say nice things about virtually every world leader. It is part of his negotiating style. When has he said a bad thing about Chinese President Xi Jinping? Never. And yet, he slapped tariffs on China.
It would seem that in Trump’s opinion – and he may be correct – Putin, Xi and he are the three most important leaders of the world because they are more than heads-of-state but are influence leaders of conglomerates of nations. Even more importantly, what Trump says about various heads-of-state is less important than the functional policies and programs between those nations and the United States. If you look at contemporary political reporting like a game show, the press focuses on the banter between the host and the contestants and ignores who is winning the prizes.
The press spent an inordinate amount of time conjecturing if Trump would confront Putin on such issues as election meddling, Ukrainian invasion, Syrian involvement and sanctions. The fact that they were totally clueless about what Trump had in mind or would say did not stop them from creating all kinds of false negative and uninformed narratives – basically conjecturing on their own baseless speculations. Would Trump give Putin a pass on election meddling? Would he end sanctions? Would he withdraw from NATO’s military exercises on the Russian border? Would he agree to sell Alaska back to Russia for a small profit – with a codicil for the development of Trump golf courses?
Unfortunately for Trump and the Republicans, the President appears to have given both Putin and Trump critics their fondest dream. That is covered in more detail in “From Russia with Love Part 2 – The President.”