Russia Mania Is the Birtherism of the Left

Russia Mania Is the Birtherism of the Left
Erica Yoon/The Roanoke Times via AP
Russia Mania Is the Birtherism of the Left
Erica Yoon/The Roanoke Times via AP
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The birther movement that assailed President Obama represents one of the most unsavory themes of American politics over the last decade.  The slurs emanated first from the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2008, which smeared then-Sen. Obama as “fundamentally not American.”  To his discredit, Donald Trump also took up the cause. Thankfully, he did not mention this issue as a presidential candidate in 2016 until he unequivocally, and properly, put it to rest, fully acknowledging President Obama’s birth citizenship. As a campaign surrogate, I regularly denounced the whole birther theme, both in print and on television.

Now, I forcefully denounce a new birtherism, this time from the left via an entrenched and hysterical fixation on Russia and President Trump.  Like the Obama birtherism, there are enough fuzzy facts for totally biased people to convince themselves there is some merit to the fanciful concoction.  After all, Trump seems unwilling to vigorously condemn Putin’s misdeeds.  Trump also was hesitant to enact harsh sanctions against Russia.  Perhaps most importantly, he seemed unduly deferential to Putin in the Helsinki press conference, a criticism I myself levied.

But, the leap from “Trump is too soft on Russia” to “Trump is a compromised Russian agent” is indeed a giant one, and illogical as well.  According to the new birthers, the total lack of evidence regarding Trump and his supposed fealty to Russia matters little; instead, only their suspicions and mistrust matter, especially since so many media and political elites still have not recovered from so badly missing the tectonic political shift of the 2016 election.  Rather than introspection or discernment regarding their own biases, the chattering class of Acela corridor bigwigs would rather create a myth that the president did not really win, at least not legitimately.  The new birthers would rather sell us the lie that the Russians altered the vote to install their man in the Oval Office to do Vladimir’s bidding. 

Such thoughts are hardly consigned to the wackier outposts of the radical left. Instead, this liberal birtherism is fully embraced by the most prolific and credentialed elites of American government and media.  For example, James Clapper, unbowed despite his very public perjury under oath regarding mass surveillance of Americans, declared, “I really do wonder whether the Russians have something on him [Trump].” CNN security analyst Asha Rangappa tweeted out that a former FBI colleague advised her: “when are you going to say it on air: he’s a controlled asset of the Russian government.”

Trump’s critics seem astounded, and aggravated, by his continued success in office despite the howls of the “resistance.”  The economic Trump Boom accelerates, confidence pervades, and most non-politically obsessed Americans remain far more interested in the security and prosperity of Moscow, Idaho than Moscow, Russia.  Sadly, this success seems to drive Trump critics even further into the fringes of politics in an attempt to discredit him.  Formerly serious news anchors and politicians have transformed, through their hatred of Trump, into the new Alex Joneses.  Both the old and the new birtherisms are bad for America.  We are better than this nonsense as a country.

Steve Cortes is a contributor to RealClearPolitics and a CNN  political commentator. His Twitter handle is @CortesSteve.

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