Let’s do something a bit backward from our normal story process. Let’s jump right into this by saying: “Russian President Vladimir Putin has blackmail material on President Joe Biden.”
There, I’ve said it. Now let’s unwind this fable to figure out exactly what’s happening in this spitting match between Putin and Biden with the lives of 43 million Ukrainians at stake. The two have lined up and appeared to the World to be ready to go toe-to-toe. But something is not right: Joe seems to be throwing the fight on purpose. It appears that our president gave up the fight before the first round bell even rang.
One would think this would be a natural battle that would be ugly at best. But it looks nothing like that at all — at least up to now. And the strangest thing of all is the rhetoric we’ve heard for a long time from Joe Biden about Vladimir Putin. And it certainly has not evidenced a love fest going on. Let’s back into this “inevitability” by first looking at their history together.
Joe and Vlad: History
For more than two decades, Joe Biden has disliked and distrusted Vladimir Putin, even claiming the Russian didn’t have a soul. And yet, for the past year, Biden tried repeatedly to reason with the steely-eyed strongman.
When the two met last June in Geneva, Biden urged Putin to end his yearslong aggression against Ukraine and stop hacking the United States, telling Putin that he was hurting his “credibility worldwide.” In a call in December, as Putin was assembling tens of thousands of troops along Russia’s border with Ukraine, which he first invaded in 2014, Biden pushed him to deescalate and “return to diplomacy.” Then Biden warned Putin that reinvading Ukraine “would produce widespread human suffering and diminish Russia’s standing.”
None of these efforts mattered. In launching a massive assault on Ukraine last week, Putin proved that he sees the world, and his interests, very differently than Biden hoped. He also proved resistant to many traditional tools of diplomacy and deterrence.
Biden told us all he knew Putin and what made the Russian leader tick. Biden has for a year now as president treated Putin based on that premise. Biden’s appeals to Putin’s geopolitical ego didn’t work. Neither did threats of sanctions, words of condemnation, emotional appeals on human rights grounds, deployments of U.S. troops to NATO countries and weapons to Ukraine, or the relatively united front put forth by the United States and its allies. Even an unusual tactic employed by the Biden administration — publicizing significant amounts of intelligence about Putin’s plans — didn’t stop the dictator. And actions that might have — maybe — changed Putin’s calculus, such as deploying U.S. troops to Ukraine itself, were not ones Biden would consider.
For Biden and his team, it is a deeply frustrating moment. Their strategy toward Russia has largely failed, despite their effort to adjust it over time to account for Putin’s stubborn moves. On Thursday, Biden doubled down on the existing strategy, unveiling more sanctions, deploying more U.S. troops to Europe, and promising more diplomacy to keep America and its allies unified. He warned that “Putin’s aggression against Ukraine will end up costing Russia dearly economically and strategically. We will make sure of that. Putin will be a pariah on the international stage.”
At the same time, Biden dismissed questions about whether he’d fully appreciated Putin’s thinking. “I didn’t underestimate him,” he insisted. But even some supporters of the Biden administration beg to differ.
Plenty of Russian hands feared Biden and his aides were being naïve. Many of the people around Biden had served in the Barack Obama administration when Biden was vice president, and back then the United States was often startled by Moscow’s moves. It was under Obama, after all, that Putin first used surreptitious means to invade and annex parts of Ukraine in 2014. But Obama and some of his aides were nervous about how much to escalate a standoff with Russia, resisting, for instance, sending certain lethal weapons to Ukraine.
The Russia watchers, some of whom had also served under Obama, warned the Biden team not to think they could put Putin aside or simply “manage” him tit-for-tat, especially not through diplomacy alone. Michael McFaul, who served as a U.S. ambassador to Russia under Obama, noted, for instance, that the sanctions package seemed designed to punish past Russian misbehavior in the hopes there would be no more of it.
“I am skeptical that Putin is going to go along with their strategy,” he told POLITICO last April. “Whether they like it or not, Putin’s going to be part of Biden’s foreign policy for the next four years.”
And in fact, Russia never got far from the headlines.
Does Putin Have Something On Joe Biden?
We started this story by flat-out stating that Vladimir Putin DOES have something on Biden. It’s too obvious to any longer ignore that has to be true. Maybe it began during the Russiagate war against Donald Trump and the possible use of Vladimir Putin to fuel that battle. There were so many weird elements in that entire debacle it’s impossible to ascertain fact or false on dozens of different possibilities. But, I am certain Vladimir Putin used some or all of that circus to fuel his eventual face-to-face with Biden as the U.S. President.
You don’t need a secret dossier authored by a British ex-spy for hire like Christopher Steele to understand the possible weird real-world mirror version of Russiagate. This time, it’s basically all out in the open — or at least it was, until the press and social media scrubbed reports of Hunter Biden’s laptop from the internet in the run-up to the 2020 election. The laptop, whose provenance and contents have both since checked out beyond any shadow of a doubt, give evidence of Hunter’s financial relationships with foreign officials and businesses, like the more than $50,000 per month he got for sitting on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, starting in the spring of 2014.
The reason that a company like Burisma was willing to pay the drug-addled son of the vice president of the United States so much money for a no-show job wasn’t to buy his expertise in natural gas exploration and drilling, of course. Hunter Biden’s sordid memoir, Beautiful Things, published last year, makes it clear that, during the period in question, he was a wreck of a human being who spent lavishly on crack and methamphetamine, which he consumed in expensive hotel rooms in the company of prostitutes. It would seem that the obvious point of paying Hunter Biden was to buy protection from the American official in charge of Ukraine policy — Joe Biden.
Did it work? Well, according to the now-president, yes. As Biden told a 2018 audience, he threatened to withhold a $1 billion loan guarantee to Ukraine unless the government in Kyiv fired a prosecutor investigating the company that was paying his son a princely retainer to fuel his drug habit.
At the time Hunter Biden’s laptop first surfaced, U.S. media and spy services claimed it was “Russian disinformation” — a fake, aimed at harming his father’s election prospects. It wasn’t, of course, as Hunter’s subsequent memoir and former business associates have confirmed. The effort to cast aspersions on the origins of the laptop, censor reports about it, and/or label reporting on its contents “disinformation” was itself a “disinformation” operation waged by American media and tech platforms in a real-world example of “election interference,” as well as a massive in-kind contribution to Joe Biden’s election campaign.
But the Hunter Biden laptop — and the cries of “Russian disinformation” that followed — raise a timely question: Given the Bidens’ Ukraine-related activities, what additional information does Moscow have on the first family?
Hunter Biden’s problems with substance abuse, prostitutes, and money would have made the vice president’s son an ideal target for foreign intelligence services. Worse, Joe Biden seems to have eagerly promoted his son’s shakedown efforts, even boasting publicly about using his office to interfere in Ukraine’s political and judicial systems, in ways that directly benefited his son’s employer. There is surely no shortage of oligarchs, Ukrainian and Russian, who are eager to share information about their dealings with the Bidens in order to gain influence with Putin and undo rival billionaires. One can assume that all of that information has made its way by now to Putin’s table.
The likelihood that Russia is sitting on a wealth of compromising Ukraine-related material on Joe Biden and his family may come as a shock to media that pushed the Trump-Russia collusion narrative for four years. But the Biden-Russia kompromat story may be more than a political funhouse mirror. It may explain the president’s curious passivity toward Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline and why, almost as soon as Biden took office, Putin seized the opportunity to move more than 100,000 troops to Ukraine’s border.
What’s more, it may also provide new insight into the Russiagate conspiracy theory that poisoned America’s public sphere and made people lose their collective minds.
Given the amount of genuinely compromising material tying Joe Biden and his son to shady dealings involving Ukraine and Russia, including a $3.5 million payment Hunter received from the widow of the former mayor of Moscow in 2014, it’s worth asking if the 46th president of the United States was the initial target of the Hillary Clinton-funded Russia dossier? In fact, allegations about the Bidens’ activities in Ukraine, sourced in part, it seems, to the Clinton campaign, made their way into The New York Times in 2015, encouraging Biden to dispel second thoughts about reentering the 2016 race.
The Steele dossier has long since been revealed as nothing but utter nonsense, but with the Bidens as a target rather than Trump, it’s at least easier to make sense of its contents, especially the notorious “pee tape.” Trump is a well-known germaphobe; it was always hard to imagine him agreeing to be micturated upon by hookers on a hotel bed in Moscow. Nor would Republican primary voters likely care about ladies of the night soiling a bed that Barack Obama once slept in. But Democrats would think it sacrilegious. And by his own admission, Hunter Biden seems to have spent plenty of nights in hotel rooms with prostitutes. If it seems hard to imagine Donald Trump walking into a hotel in Moscow and asking for the Obama suite, a scenario in which Hunter Biden demanded such lodgings doesn’t take much imagination at all.
Most Americans are skeptical about the innocence of Joe Biden in all of this. Yes, Democrats have for decades been madly in love with the dashing Senator from Delaware who probably was the greatest speechmaker in Congress for forty years. But those who knew him well enough to push through that facade of “coolness” realized there was very little there in the way of substance. He grossly misrepresented his accomplishments in college and even in his early life. He embellished EVERY story he ever told! What shocked so many was that when confronted with many of the lies and misrepresentations he made publicly, he showed little, if any, remorse.
For this writer, it is incomprehensible to accept that the President of the United States — even Joe Biden — would with executive action arbitrarily destroy in a few short weeks the most effective sector of the U.S. economy: fossil fuel. In doing so, he forced EVERY American into a financial hole that has since driven millions of good-paying jobs back overseas, shuttered almost totally the U.S. oil and gas industry while driving the cost of energy through the roof for all Americans.
But the salient point of all this is he didn’t have to do any of it! Why he did is the enigma that virtually guarantees that much of these actions can only be as payback or based on blackmail.
Every way President Biden has responded to Vladimir Putin’s actions leading up to and during the Russian invasion of Ukraine screams that Biden is crippled by something that has given Putin power over the leader of the free world. And whatever it is is stopping Biden from using his considerable resources as President to stop this unprovoked invasion of a sovereign nation.
Americans are paying dearly at the pump for Joe’s actions that have not only emboldened Putin but put $900 billion of excess cash into his hands from the massive increase of Russian oil sales since Biden became President.
We could keep going for quite a while painting more parts of this picture. But you know it must be true. There are far too many moving parts that simply do not make sense to think these are the actions of a coherent leader who is committed to what’s best for the American people.
Let’s stop here: If you think I’m nuts just put the ledger sheets side by side comparing Trump’s accomplishments in year one of his administration and those of Joe Biden. Based on that alone proves Joe’s a failure.
By the way: an ABC poll released Sunday shows Joe’s approval among American voters has dropped to 37%!
For right now the only really important thing we must ascertain is this: Can Joe overcome these massive hurdles and obstacles and pull a win against Putin in Ukraine?
My thought: the only way Joe can hope for a tiny shred of victory in this is if the Ukrainian people put up enough military and civilian force against Putin’s troops that he withdraws.
And I think that’s doubtful.