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Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Difference Between Saying and Doing

This morning I read two takes on the US-Russia relationship after the meeting between presidents Trump and Putin in Germany.  One was by Jen Psaki, a former spokesperson for the Obama Administration and the other by Larry Kudlow, a conservative columnist who focuses on economics.  The columns were striking in their differing outlooks as to what happened.  These columns also illustrate very clearly the different ways that liberals and conservatives observe the world.

According to Psaki, the meeting was a disaster for the USA because Putin led Trump into a "trap" and Trump fell for it.  In Psaki's view, the Russians had lowered expectations for the meeting and that was not countered by the Trump team at State.  Trump raised the 2016 election and then let the Russian foreign minister say that America accepted Putin's claim of non-involvement in that election.  All the US side said afterwards was that the President decided that it made more sense to more onto subjects on which agreement was possible, but they didn't expressly call the statement by the Russian a lie.  For Psaki, these statements were disasters.

According to Kudlow, the Russian/American relationship was better illustrated by one section of Trump's speech in Warsaw.  The President told the Poles that the USA would work to see to it that Poland had sources of energy alternative to the pipelines that come from Russia.  America would export natural gas directly to Poland to reduce Polish dependence on the Russians.  The President also promised that the USA would not threaten to cut off energy exports to Poland as other countries (namely Russia) had done in the past.  Kudlow rightly points out that every bit of natural gas that comes from the USA to Poland replaces natural gas that the Russians would otherwise have sold.  Just switching Poland to the use of American natural gas would reduce the Russian economy by tens of billions of dollars each year.  For Kudlow, this action is a home run.

It's hard to imagine a better illustration of the difference between the Obama and Trump administrations.  Psaki, who learned all she knows during the Obama years, is most focused on how things look.  She cares what was said much more than what is actually happening.  Kudlow, who was a Trump economic adviser during the campaign, is focused not on words, but on deeds.  Trump's America is going ahead with moves that will weaken Russia and its sway over eastern Europe.  Trump's move will actually strengthen the USA and not just from a public relations standpoint.

I guess the real difference here is that during the Obama years, the White House focused on how things looked no matter whether or not they actually helped the USA.  The Trump White House is now focused on things that will help the USA even if they don't discuss it with the artfulness (and frequent dishonesty) of the Obama team.  It's a major change for the better.

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