Innocent comments are fueling the cause advanced by enemies of improved US-Russia relations.
Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Donald Trump for his election victory," said Newsweek. A Washington Post headline read, "Putin: 'Trump's first statements give us hope.'"
But these and other positively expectant statements seem to be backfiring on Putin. Look at the headlines that followed:
--"Vladimir Putin, Russians cheer Donald Trump's victory," Washington Times
--"Surprise! Trump was a Putin puppet all along," Daily Kos
--"For Russia and Putin, a Surprise Gift From America," New York Times
--"How Vladimir Putin won the US election," AOL News
--"Putin gains Trump card in geopolitical poker game," Reuters
There undoubtedly would have been negative news stories even if Putin had not been so publically pleased about Trump's victory. But his triumphalism gave his critics more ammunition.
It looks to me like the Kremlin is already overplaying its hand. There's nothing to be gained but much to be lost when Putin is broadcasting his joy over Trump's election. Somebody should put a sock in Putin's mouth. Let him keep his point of view to himself for now.
I can understand Putin's belief that Trump might be able to set US-Russia relations on a better course. But Trump was not crowned king and will have a lot of entrenched domestic opposition to deal with.
Putin should be mindful that better relations with Russia is not a top priority topic for Trump. To get congressional support for his pet plans he will have to get the cooperation of members of Congress. Many of them either receive significant financial support for being anti Russian or have a lot of past negative rhetoric to back away from.
It's not hard to imagine deal-maker Trump selling out Russia in order to get cooperation on matters he deems more important.
And then there's also the American government bureaucracy that is filled with people with deep convictions about how bad Putin and Russia are.
Achieving better US-Russia relations will be no cakewalk. It's doable but not easily or simply.
I'm told by a well-connected and reliable source that Putin's comments on Trump's election were well thought-out and carefully said. But what was "carefully said" was grist enough for the adversarial Western media. They blew it into big "news stories" that support the malicious allegations that played such a conspicuous role in the campaign.
These stories confirm to the disinterested or gullible American public all the Clintonite warnings that a treacherous Putin-Trump connection secretly exists. There's no defense for such lack of journalistic integrity in the cited stories. But it wouldn't take a rocket scientist to have seen this coming.
Perhaps leadership on the issue from Trump can turn this around. But I won't hold my breath. Putin, meanwhile, should hold his tongue.
And another thing: There seems to be an embryonic effort to bring about an upset when the Electoral College votes.
If Putin keeps wagging his tongue he might very well have an impact on who is ultimately sworn in as POTUS after all. Can't someone tell Putin and his cronies to shut up?