More good news from the Trump-Putin summit.
Remember the video simulation that Russia unveiled four months ago? It showed what purported to be a new long-range Sarmat cruise missile that Russian president Vladimir Putin called “invincible.”
The video simulation showed a shower of these nuclear missiles raining down on South Florida.
At least that’s what we thought it showed.
But Putin cleared that up in Helsinki on Monday after being confronted on the simulation by President … er, um, … correction, make that Fox News anchor Chris Wallace.
President Donald Trump was probably too busy recounting his Electoral College tally in Wisconsin to bring up the provocative simulation of a nuclear strike on Florida.
Lucky for us, we had Wallace.
“In March, you introduced a new generation of Russian missiles, including what you called an invincible missile you said, that could evade, defeat all of our missile defenses,” Wallace told Putin. “And you even released a video that showed this super missile flying over the United States and hitting Florida very near where President Trump’s estate is at Mar-a-Lago.”
Mentioning the potential nuking of Mar-a-Lago was an excellent point.
Putting aside the 8 million people who live in the surrounding area, this Russian video was a virtual act of aggression against a Palm Beach property designated as a historic landmark. At the very least, the town’s Landmarks Preservation Commission would require permitting, and most likely a variance, before any alteration of the outside structure occurs — which presumably would happen during a nuclear blast.
Putin was quick to dispute the threatening gesture.
“As far as the footage is concerned, well, they did not specify that it, the missile, is about to hit the United States,” Putin said. “You have to look at it more carefully.”
OK, I have. The footage (available here: https://tinyurl.com/y9oyhqqc) clearly shows a peninsula that is precisely in the shape and composition of Florida, complete with a big body of water where Lake Okeechobee should be, and what looks just like Tampa Bay on the west coast and Cape Canaveral on the east coast.
It looks more like Florida than the Florida on the Florida license plate looks like Florida.
Chris Wallace didn’t accept Putin’s first response.
“It shows Florida,” Wallace told Putin.
“That was not signed ‘Florida.’’’ Putin answered. “There was not a caption saying ‘Florida.’ They could take a more careful look at it. There was never a caption, ‘Florida.’”
OK, that’s true. The map showing nuclear warheads raining down on Florida didn’t have the word “FLORIDA” stenciled over the peninsula, which in Russian probably has the “R” going backward.
It’s just like the building at 22 Kirova Street in Moscow that Russian military and intelligence officers used as headquarters in a cyber-attack on the U.S. presidential election two years ago, according to last week’s federal indictment.
There was no sign on the Russian cyber-warfare headquarters that identified it as “The Secret Russian Plot to Elect Donald Trump Building.”
So, by Putin’s naming theory, that means there was no secret plot to help Trump.
You see? It’s all in the labeling, as Putin was explaining.
No label. No problem.
“Don’t try to scare your population with make-believe threats,” Putin told Wallace.
In other words: Are you going to believe your lying eyes, or are you going to believe me?
It was helpful having a transcript and a recording of this exchange, because there was no transcript or recording of the two-hour meeting of Trump and Putin.
All we know is that after the meeting, Trump discounted the overwhelming evidence presented to him by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the last presidential election. Instead, the president said he doesn’t “see any reason” for Russian meddling.
“So I have great confidence in my intelligence people,” Trump said, “but I will tell you that president Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”
Just like Putin was “extremely strong and powerful” in his denial to Wallace that what was clearly Florida was actually Florida.
So on one hand you have overwhelming physical evidence of Florida being Florida, and on the other you have the smirking denials of a ruthless, former KGB spy saying that Florida is not Florida.
And our self-proclaimed “stable genius” of a president says he’s inclined to side with the murderous former spy.
Russia just looks like it meddled, but it didn’t. Florida just looks like Florida, but it isn’t.
Well, that’s a relief. It would be a shame to imagine nuclear winter without Mar-a-Lago.