The Corner

White House

With Mueller’s Report Complete, Will Democrats Remain Russia Hawks?

President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at a joint news conference following their summit meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

One of the weirdest aspects of the Trump collusion theory was watching the Democratic party turn into hardcore Russia hawks, almost overnight.

We all remember Obama’s scoffing to Mitt Romney, “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign-policy back, because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.” The Democrats didn’t, en masse, turn into loud and outspoken Putin critics after the polonium poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006; Russia’s threat to bomb Eastern European missile-defense sites in 2012; Russia’s decision to take in Edward Snowden in 2013; the annexation of Crimea in 2014; the destruction of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine in 2014; or Russia’s intervention in the Syrian civil war in 2015. Nor did you hear much from the average Democrat about the Novichok nerve-agent poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury in 2018. No, what really got the Democrats mad about Russia was Putin’s preference for Donald Trump in 2016 and his hacking of DNC and John Podesta’s emails.

It’s understandable that Democrats would be angriest about the Russian crimes that hit closest to home. But in the long and ugly history of Vladimir Putin and his cronies running the Russian government, hacking into Americans’ private emails doesn’t crack the top-ten worst things they’ve ever done.*

In the minds of many Democrats, Trump wasn’t a villain for saying nice things about Putin; Putin was a villain for saying nice things about Trump.

With the Russia investigation no longer likely to lead to criminal charges for Trump or his family, and no longer likely to lay out an easily justifiable argument for impeachment, one has to wonder if Democrats will remain so hawkish on Russia.

If Democrats meant what they said, they will continue to want the toughest-possible sanctions on Moscow, as much aid to Ukraine as possible, call for the removal of Russian forces from Crimea, showcase Russia’s hideous human-rights record, expose Vladimir Putin’s long list of abominable crimes, and fully embrace a foreign policy of deterrence. They would want as much joint training with the Baltic states as possible.

If Democrats remain Russia hawks, it will be a pleasant surprise. But if they lose interest in Putin and Russia, it will be further proof that they only saw the topic as a useful tool against Trump, and never had all that much concern about Eastern Europe.

(*Because some idiot will claim this must be hyperbole, in no particular order: Wiping Grozny off the face of the earth; probably making false-flag terror attacks in 1999; murdering and assassinating political foes; killing journalists who write critical stories about his policies; invading and occupying parts of Georgia; shooting down Malaysian Airlines flight 17;  torturing critics; trying to poison Alexander Litvinenko with polonium; backing Ramzan Kadyrov’s brutal rule of Chechnya and blocking investigations of the use of chemical weapons in Syria are all worse than hacking.)

Most Popular


Put Up or Shut Up on These Accusations, Hillary

Look, one 2016 candidate being prone to wild and baseless accusations is enough. Appearing on Obama campaign manager David Plouffe’s podcast, Hillary Clinton suggested that 2016 Green Party candidate Jill Stein was a “Russian asset,” that Republicans and Russians were promoting the Green Party, and ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Elizabeth Warren Is Not Honest

If you want to run for office, political consultants will hammer away at one point: Tell stories. People respond to stories. We’ve been a story-telling species since our fur-clad ancestors gathered around campfires. Don’t cite statistics. No one can remember statistics. Make it human. Make it relatable. ... Read More
National Review


Today is my last day at National Review. It's an incredibly bittersweet moment. While I've only worked full-time since May, 2015, I've contributed posts and pieces for over fifteen years. NR was the first national platform to publish my work, and now -- thousands of posts and more than a million words later -- I ... Read More

Feminists Have Turned on Pornography

Since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, the feminist movement has sought to condemn traditional sexual ethics as repressive, misogynistic, and intolerant. As the 2010s come to a close, it might be fair to say that mainstream culture has reached the logical endpoint of this philosophy. Whereas older Americans ... Read More
Economy & Business

Andrew Yang, Snake Oil Salesman

Andrew Yang, the tech entrepreneur and gadfly, has definitely cleared the bar for a successful cause candidate. Not only has he exceeded expectations for his polling and fundraising, not only has he developed a cult following, not only has he got people talking about his signature idea, the universal basic ... Read More
White House

The Impeachment Defense That Doesn’t Work

If we’ve learned anything from the last couple of weeks, it’s that the “perfect phone call” defense of Trump and Ukraine doesn’t work. As Andy and I discussed on his podcast this week, the “perfect” defense allows the Democrats to score easy points by establishing that people in the administration ... Read More

Democrats Think They Can Win without You

A  few days ago, Ericka Anderson, an old friend of National Review, popped up in the pages of the New York Times lamenting that “the Democratic presidential field neglects abundant pools of potential Democrat converts, leaving persuadable audiences — like independents and Trump-averse, anti-abortion ... Read More
PC Culture

Defiant Dave Chappelle

When Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special Sticks & Stones came out in August, the overwhelming response from critics was that it was offensive, unacceptable garbage. Inkoo Kang of Slate declared that Chappelle’s “jokes make you wince.” Garrett Martin, in the online magazine Paste, maintained that the ... Read More