The Desire to Please Dictators: Why Trump’s Crimea Gaffe Matters

It’s August and we’re officially in this year’s presidential contest in a serious way. Now that both parties have anointed nominees at their conventions, campaigning begins in earnest with the election in early November only three months and much hard electoral slogging away.

Hillary Clinton’s coronation in Philadelphia at the Democratic convention got off to a rocky start last week with revelations of messy squabbling and shady dealings thanks to 20,000 stolen Democratic National Committee internal emails that appeared on the website of Wikileaks, the “privacy” organization that, as I explained in detail, now functions as an arm of the Kremlin.

Donald Trump has done himself and the Republican party no favors with his reaction to the Wikileaks operation, however. Initially dismissing allegations of Russian involvement as a “joke,” Trump then asked Moscow to locate the more than 30,000 emails that Clinton and her staff deleted in EmailGate. While it’s highly likely that the Kremlin indeed does have Hillary’s missing emails, encouraging a hostile intelligence service to pillage the communications of fellow Americans represents a genuinely novel development in our politics.

To make matters worse, Trump then attacked the parents of a Muslim soldier who was killed in Iraq while serving as an officer in the U.S. Army. Make no mistake—the Khan family appeared at the Democratic convention in a political role and they badmouthed Trump there. That said, the optics of going after the grieving parents in public are so bad as to defy belief that anybody would do it—repeatedly. Attacking Gold Star parents, too, is a novel development in our politics.

It’s apparent that the Democrats laid a cunning trap for Trump with the Khans, knowing how the media was likely to cover the story, and the Republican nominee walked straight right into it, mouth blazing. It’s no wonder that Trump’s polls numbers have been dropping in recent days while Hillary’s are rising.

Read the rest at The Observer…