The Russians Aren't Coming

Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com

If you're of a certain age (as I am), there's something that should have startled you recently and yet, as far as I know, no one has bothered to mention it: anytime in the last seven decades, any American politician running for any position from dog catcher to president who had called on Russia's leaders for help in a domestic campaign (no less for them to release the supposedly cyber-hacked emails of a former secretary of state) would have been pilloried. His or her career would have instantly been over; his or her reputation turned to ash; his or her future life, rubble. No exceptions.

Yet the immortal Donald, the Incredible Hulk of present-day American politics, did just that -- not once but twice. First, he said: "By the way, [the Russians] hacked -- they probably have her 33,000 [missing] emails. I hope they do. They probably have her 33,000 emails that she lost and deleted because you'd see some beauties there. So let's see." Then, assumedly just in case anyone had missed what he was getting at, he put it even more bluntly: "Russia, if you're listening: I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let's see if that happens."

And he lived to tell the tale and threaten to "hit" not Russian President Vladimir Putin, but former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (who dissed him at the Democratic convention) "so hard his head would spin." It's true that a little flurry of press accounts reported on the way Trump had inserted himself into an already roiling scandal involving the possible Russian cyber hacking of the Democratic National Committee's computers. It's also true that various national security state types leapt, in typical Cold War fashion, to accuse him of engaging in acts that were "tantamount to treason," or of having committed an actual, prosecutable crime. But they, not The Donald, were clearly the dinosaurs of our post-asteroid moment.

For the first time in 70-plus years, an American politician made a mockery of the knowns and givens of the American national security state's definition of The Enemy and got away scot free. So consider Trump's plea to Putin as an announcement that we've all been thrust willy-nilly into a new age, a new era so strange that we need Andrew Bacevich, author of America's War for the Greater Middle East, to begin to unravel it for us in "The Decay of American Politics."