Reporters and political pundits frequently suggest that President Trump colors outside the lines of traditional presidential conduct and decorum – and in many ways he does. They regularly begin their negative analyses with such phrases as “Never before in American history …” or “No President has ever …”
Whether they offer up that claim out of ignorance of history or whether it is maliciously used to further denigrate Trump as an awful exception to the implied norms is not clear. Maybe it is a bit of both.
I recall one of those talking heads on television harkening back to the era of Abraham Lincoln. Comparing the 16th President’s gift of eloquent oration against Trump’s pugnacious rhetoric, the fellow on the small screen declared in a tone of reverence and melancholy, “Those were kinder and gentler times.”
The nation was divided over slavery. There was a Civil War going on that would kill more than 400,000 Americans. The slavery-loving Democratic Party invented the Ku Klux Klan, the Red Shirts, the White Citizen Councils and other similar groups – Americas first and only large-scale political terrorist organizations. A United States Senator was beaten to within an inch of his life on the floor of the Congress. Lincoln became the first President to be assassinated. Kinder and gentler?
At the time Occupy Wall Street and Antifa were playing out their violent tactics, another reporter said the “unprecedented” street violence was in response to the Trump presidency. That last part is true, but “unprecedented?”
That young journalist may not have been born in the 1960s, but he should have learned about the Days of Rage in school. Buildings were being blown up. Riots were destroying large sections of virtually every major city. Cops, protestors and innocent bystanders were being killed on a regular basis. Assassinations took the lives of a President, a United States Senator and the nation’s greatest civil rights leader – and a major presidential candidate was confined to a wheelchair for life from the bullet of a would-be assassin.
Then there is all this Russian stuff. If you rely on the news, you are likely to believe that Russia is the only country we need to worry about in terms of meddling in the internal affairs of the United States – and that it is some sort of recent activity. When Trump says, “it could be Russia and it could be other countries,” the press accuses him of going soft on Russia by drawing the comparison. While the intelligence community all agree that Russia does a lot of meddling, they also agree that other countries also meddle. In fact, it is widely believed within the intelligence community that China spies on America, tries to influence our political decision-making process and steals our technology more than any nation on earth.
Russian meddling is not new. The philosophic ancestors of the modern left-wingers were all over Senator Joe McCarthy for going after Russian agents and their so-called “fellow travelers.” While his tactics were abusive, he was not entirely wrong. Russian spies were embedded in our government and in the private sector. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for providing the Russians with top secret information regarding the development of the atomic bomb.
The Kennedy family had their own problems with Russian collusion. In May of 2017, Tim Naftali, of Slate, wrote:
“On a day in early December one of Moscow’s agents in the United States, working undercover as a journalist for Izvestia, reported a private meeting with the president-elect’s “closest adviser.” The adviser, who met privately with the Russian spy, was frank and hopeful about a significant improvement in relations from the previous administration. He “stressed that was not merely expressing his personal opinion but the position of the future president.” The two men met alone, and there was no American record made of the encounter.”
The President-elect at the time was John Kennedy and the close advisor setting up a secret back channel while President Eisenhower was still in the Oval Office was brother Robert Kennedy. According to a later KGB report to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev based on secret conversations with Robert:
“[President] Kennedy would like to meet with you [Khrushchev] and hopes that his relations with the Soviet leader will be better than Eisenhower had.”
Then there was President Kennedy’s salacious personal life.
President Kennedy’s extramarital affairs were well known among the Hyannis Port and Washington social elite. His best-known paramour was actress Marilyn Monroe. He was also known to be having an affair with the one-time gal pal of Chicago Mafia boss Sam Giancana – the man Kennedy and his brother, as Attorney General, employed to knock off Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. The plot failed and Giancana was later gunned down in his home in Illinois.
The even more notorious lady was Ellen Rometsch, an East German agent – essentially a Russian spy. Though denials were offered from all corners, it was Robert that told the President he had to break it off before it became a public scandal big enough to raise the issue of impeachment. The affair was ended and Rometsch was booted out of the country with a sweet payoff.
Then there is Senator Ted Kennedy – the other brother. Despite the scandal of Chappaquiddick that resulted in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, Kennedy had not yet abandoned presidential ambitions. He lost to Jimmy Carter in 1980 and was hoping to take on Reagan in 1984.
To advance that desire, Kennedy reached out to the KGB for help. Kennedy’s … dare we say … treason was revealed after the fall of the Soviet Union when KGB files were made available to the United States by the then friendly democratic Russian government of Boris Yeltsin.
Revealed was a 1983 letter from Viktor Chebrikov, head of the KGB, to Soviet leader Yuri Andropov stating that Kennedy was eager to “counter the militaristic policies” of President Reagan. The report went onto say:
“Kennedy believes that in order to influence Americans it would be important to organize in August-September of this year, televised interviews with Y.V. Andropov in the USA. A direct appeal by the general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to the American people will, without a doubt, attract a great deal of attention and interest in the country. The senator is convinced this would receive the maximum resonance in so far as television is the most effective method of mass media and information.”
Kennedy further counseled the Russians that the event should appear to be coming from the American side and offered to help get news folks like Walter Cronkite or Barbara Walters to participate. Kennedy believed he could get Elton Raul, president of ABC to come to Moscow to conduct a personal interview with Andropov.
Prior to the Andropov interview, Kennedy suggested that delegations of Soviet military and intelligence people travel to the United States for a series of television interviews to “appeal directly to the American people about the peaceful intentions of the USSR.”
Kennedy was not alone in his treachery. He recruited his law school roommate and California Senator John Tunney to be an emissary between Kennedy and the KGB. Tunney made several trips to Moscow to negotiate the Kennedy scheme with the KGB. According to the records, in one visit Tunney told the KGB that Kennedy was very impressed with former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Tunney told the KGB that the Massachusetts senator was unhappy with President Carter becoming “overly belligerent” after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.
Kennedy and Tunney were not only giving advice to the Russians but was more than willing to participate in the execution of the plan.
Russian espionage reached a peak during the Regain administration with no small thanks to government officials and office holders like Kennedy and Tunney – but Reagan would have none of it. Even as he negotiated Strategic Arms Limitation Treaties (SALT) and Star Wars Defense Systems with the new Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, Reagan’s administration arrested and prosecuted a significant number of communist spies working directly or indirectly for Mother Russia – so many that 1985 became known as the Year of the Spies (despite the fact the even more spies were arrested in 1984). Not sure how they missed Kennedy and Tunney.
And if you think there can be no “bad seeds” in our intelligence community, consider the case of Robert Hanssen. In 1979, the KGB had spies in both the CIA, Aldrich Ames, and the FBI, Hanssen. Working separately, they compromised a number of American operations and outed KGB double agents – some of whom were subsequently executed in Russia.
Hanssen was finally arrested and is currently serving life in prison. His efforts on behalf of Russia enabled a number of Ruskie spies to escape. He also tipped the Russians off to a “listening tunnel” the United States had dug under the Russian embassy in Washington.
Hanssen’s case is of particular interest to me because we were classmates at Knox College. In fact, I recruited him to that other subversive organization – the Knox College Young Republicans.
Lastly, there are the issues of the Obama administration – the reset button, the uranium deal, Obama’s whispered assurance to Putin, the millions of dollars Russian oligarchs and companies donated to the Clinton Foundation, those enormous speaking fees and the decision to do nothing after Obama was informed of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. But all of those have been reported on despite the best efforts of the #NeverTrump media to spin those stories away from their Democrat friends or diminish their significance.
So, how does all this relate to what is going on in Washington today? First and foremost, Russian meddling in our domestic and political affairs is not unusual. It would be surprising if they were not.
One can also evaluate the media firestorm being generated by today’s hostile press to the relatively mild responses to all those past events. It cannot be ignored – as much as the left tries – that virtually all the people compromised by Russia in the past were Democrats. That seems to explain the dramatically different reporting. Ya think!
Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in economics, public policy and politics. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, as well as the White House. He has testified as an expert witness before legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress, and lectured at major colleges and universities. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at email@example.com.