A Few Thoughts on Russian Sanctions

 According to a CNN news alert on Saturday night, Donald Trump will sign the Russian Sanction's bill sent to him by Congress. What makes this so interesting to me, is that the House voted 419/3 and the Senate 98/2 to pass this bill. In the era of partisan politics, this is virtually unheard of. What's really interesting?  If Trump had decided to veto the bill, Congress would have, or should I say, "could" have easily overridden the veto—had they wanted to do so.

                        I believe that's the reason Trump agreed to sign. The rightness of this action has no part in this equation. Trump may not be a genius (said this writer laughingly even as he wrote it), but he's smart enough to want to avoid the "thumb-in-the-eye" embarrassment of a veto override. The bill handicaps him in several ways: 1) Signing the bill into law will send an inexperienced and undisciplined White House—even Trump has to know of its internal chaos—into an escalating confrontation with Russia. This, at a time when actions taken to reduce tensions during the Obama administration have eroded under Trump and domestic pressure in the guise of a collusion investigation will make it very, very hard to reverse course; 2) Trump's fantasy of "I'm the deal maker and I'm in charge here," will be over. He would now have to admit, even to himself—surely the most painful admission of all—that he is not all powerful in that office; 3) While his first instinct will be to blame the Congress and disloyal and unpatriotic members of the Democratic and Republican Parties, I think he will also cite this as evidence that there is no collusion between his campaign, his family and/or his administration and the Russians.

                        This will not draw attention away from the ever burgeoning Russian investigation, any more than his attempts at distracting attacks on the LGBT community, or his own Attorney General do or will. It will placate and convince his followers while the rest of us wait for Bob Mueller to develop his findings. Trump doesn't seem to realize that nothing is going to make this go away. The more he threatens, the more people he fires, the deeper the hole he digs for himself, his family and his administration. The first rule of being in a hole? Stop digging; Donald doesn't seem to understand that adage, or its meaning. He's content to try and bully his way through his term.      

       Apparently that tactic didn't work for the "skinny bill," i.e., the health care bill with just enough in it to please as many GOP members as possible. It didn't work when he threatened the entire state of Alaska through their Senator Lisa Murkowski when she announced she'd vote against it (she's not up for reelection—he has no leverage over her—so the entire state of Alaska will suffer from a threatened loss of Federal Aid). It didn't work on Susan Collins of Maine, and it didn't work when he tried to sweet talk John McCain in person, or when VP Mike Pence and the Senator from Arizona disappeared for several minutes into the Senate Cloak Room. When McCain came out the last time, he caught the attention of the Senate Clerk—who was already calling the roll—and gave a thumbs down signal. That act of political courage was enough to sink the bill. Mitch McConnell can count, and he knew it too.  I realize there are still open venues for the Grand Obstructionist Party to derail the American Care Act (aka Obamacare) but I have to wonder...in the wake of all of the failures of all the attempts to repeal/revoke/replace Obamacare...do they have the stomach for the fight? I guess we have to wait to find out that answer, although I doubt it will come before the November 18 elections.  For now, the White House states that the Russian Sanction Bill will be signed. In the face of this, the ongoing Russian Collusion Investigation will continue.

             According to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, "[the near unanimous votes]" represent the strong will of the American people to see Russia take steps to improve relations with the US." Someone's going to have to explain to me how tightening economic sanctions is going to make them like us more, but I'm a Democrat and this is obviously Republican logic. Does Tillerson realize that public opinion isn't a major force for change in Russia?

      I guess Trump now has the major bill he has so desperately sought for his first months in office...although I don't think Russian Sanctions were exactly what he had in mind.

       There is an old Chinese saying:” May You Live in Interesting Times.” Some people call it a Chinese curse, but surely we do live in interesting times.  And so it goes.

 


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