Update December 20, 2016: This is interesting. The Wall Street Journal just published a fantastic opinion piece about Mitt Romney and Russia, and even says people should give Mr. Romney an apology, just as I said! No, I wasn’t reading their minds, this was just pure coincidence.
Another day, more news about Russian shenanigans. The CIA and other intelligence agencies have now concluded with high confidence that Russia was behind the hacks that leaked documents from Democratic political campaigns, presumably with the goal of tilting the election towards Mr. Trump.
At the same time, Trump is also nominating people who, while not necessarily pro-Russian, aren’t explicitly anti-Russian instead. I am most worried about his nominee for Secretary of State, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who has ties with Russia extensive enough that he even has an Order of Friendship from Vladimir Putin.
I strongly agree with Senator Marco Rubio’s tweet: “Being a ‘friend of Vladimir’ is not an attribute I am hoping for from a #SecretaryOfState”. Regarding the Secretary of State selection for the upcoming Trump administration, my preferred candidate was Mitt Romney by a mile. For a variety of reasons, everyone else (Giuliani, Tillerson, Bolton, Petraeus, etc.) collectively formed a “distant second” group.
I was not following politics too closely at the time when Mr. Romney’s comment about Russia being the “number one geopolitical foe” garnered substantial attention. But the more that I see Russia’s meddling into our affairs, and the more I also learn about what Vladimir Putin has done as President of Russia — among them, crippling freedom of the press and supporting the Syrian government — the more I find myself gravitating towards Mr. Romney’s stance on Russia.
This is my plea to our Congresspeople: use the issue of Russia to get back to bipartisanship by carrying out a much-needed Congressional investigation of Russia’s actions. The Republicans may find it harder to agree with this since it carries the implicit assumption that they’re going against their president-elect. Tradition is hard to break, however, and the Republican party has been anti-Russia for decades. This is their best shot at getting bipartisan cooperation towards a hard-line Russian stance. With Democrats presumably ready to join them now that they have seen the impact of Russia’s actions firsthand, all the momentum is there. Congress should explore and recommend actions to deter Russia, such as more economic sanctions, an increasingly aggressive cyberdefense, or enforcing a no-fly zone in Syria (admittedly, this might be a reach).
Perhaps there could be other things that Democrats could do to make such cooperation more likely. One could be a promise that, regardless of the investigation outcome, they would not challenge the legitimacy of a Trump administration.
A second could be this: anyone who mocked or otherwise strongly disagreed with Mr. Romney’s characterization of Russia as the “number one geopolitical foe” must be willing to apologize.