President Obama has a dilemma on his hands.

He wants to hit back at Russia for its reported attempts to interfere in the U.S. election. But he also wants to avoid the appearance of having misjudged the threat posed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In solving this riddle, Obama has settled on arguing that the only thing he bungled on Russia was not accounting for how easily mislead U.S. voters can be.

“I don’t think I underestimated” Putin, Obama said this weekend in an interview aired this weekend by ABC News.

The president then added, “but I think that I underestimated the degree to which, in this new information age, it is possible for misinformation, for cyberhacking and so forth, to have an impact on our open societies, our open systems, to insinuate themselves into our democratic practices in ways that I think are accelerating.”

Translation: I made the right calls with the information I had. I just didn’t think voters would be so susceptible to misinformation.

It’s understandable that Obama would go with a line that shifts attention away from the people who very recently scoffed at the notion that Russia poses a serious threat to the United States.

It’s understandable that he’d like for everyone to forget how he mocked former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney four years ago after the Republican candidate claimed, “Russia [is] without question, our number-one geopolitical foe.”

Obama shot back during that presidential debate with a now-deeply embarrassing quip: “The 1980s are calling. They want their foreign policy back.”

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Obama was rewarded at the time with high praise and plenty of attaboys from media and politicos for his supposedly sharp rhetorical rejoinder.

Four years later, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence publishes a report showing Russian operatives hacked into the private email accounts of Democratic National Committee staffers and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. The hacks, and the subsequent publishing of stolen communications, were part of a larger effort to swing the election in President-elect Trump’s favor, according to U.S. intelligence agencies.

Four years later, and some in the press are talking now about “Cold War 2.0.”

Not so funny now, is it?

Obama laughed in 2012 when Romney warned that Russia was a real threat. It takes a lot of chutzpa for the president to suggest now that his real mistake was not accounting for the supposed gullibility of voters.

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It’s good that the White House finally recognizes the thuggish Putin regime for the danger it really is. But it’s ridiculous it took them this long to say it out loud.

Recall that Obama’s stupid debate quip came after multiple Russian provocations.

There was the 2008 Russia-Georgia conflict. There were also multiple Russian cyber attacks on U.S. entities long before Obama ran for reelection. Also, human rights activists and Russian dissidents had been screaming for years about the Putin regime’s abuses.

After the 2012 election, Russia annexed Crimea. Putin’s regime was also linked to the downing of an airliner, which left approximately 300 passengers dead. Then there’s the fact the Kremlin has helped Syrian President Bashar Assad turn much of Aleppo into dust.

Finally, after everything else Russia has done under Putin, the White House is ready to characterize the Putin regime as a real threat. All it took was for Podesta to get suckered by a phishing scam.

Better late than never.

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01/09/17 9:17 PM

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