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Toby Lee( 12) sits in with Ronnie Baker Brooks at Blues Heaven in Denmark and holy crap this child is unreal.

Obama, confident in Clintons electoral prospects, chose stealth instead of openness during the US elections. That was a mistake

Presidential reputations oscillate for years after the moving trucks have pulled up to the White House. So it is with Barack Obama.

The Senate healthcare vote now postponed until after the Fourth of July recess may determine whether the Affordable Care Act crowns Obamas legislative record or whether it will be mourned as a presidential road not taken, like Woodrow Wilsons dreamings for the League of Nations.

But any assessment of Obamas presidential legacy now has to include his well-intentioned dithering in the face of Vladimir Putins deliberate effort to sabotage Hillary Clintons presidential campaign.

As the Washington Post put it last weekend in its definitive account of White House hand-wringing: In political terms, Russian interference was the crime of the century, an unprecedented and largely successful destabilizing attack on American democracy.

Obamas cautious response to ironclad evidence of Putins direct involvement was in keeping with the foreign policy approach that had governed his presidency: Dont do stupid shit. That doctrine, expressed by Obama in private during a 2014 Asian trip-up, had mostly served him well during the course of its first word. But long before Putins backstairs embracing of Trumps candidacy, Syria had represented the limitations of a chairperson who always tiptoed through the tulips.

Trumps recent tweets on the Russian front bizarrely argue that Obama single-handedly colluded or obstructed, and it did the Dems and Crooked Hillary no good. In truth, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell( who should be listed in the dictionary as the antonym of statesman ), deserves his share of the blame for governmental inaction.

As Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima and Adam Entous reveal in the Post article, top Obama officers briefed the congressional leadership in secret in early September 2016 about Putins plotting. But any hope of a joint bipartisan reply were killed when McConnell challenged the validity of the evidence linking the hacking of the Democratic National Committee to the Kremlin.

In Obamas defense, there were valid reasons for slow-walking an American response to Putin. The chairwoman was rightly concerned about eliciting a Russian cyber-attack on voting machines on election day. And Obama and his top aides brooded over whether any public announcement would merely feed Trumps bleats about a rigged election.

In hindsight, it was the wrong bellow.

Democracy involves openness and integrity in the notion that the voters can handle the truth. But Obama, confident in Clintons electoral prospects, instead chose stealth and indirection. A governmental statement in early October about Russias active measures did not even mention Putin by name. And within minutes, that hedged three-paragraph document was upstaged by the release of Trumps Access Hollywood tape about the elation of grabbing women private parts.

A presidential race decided by 78,000 elections in three nations was awash with might-have-beens. In all likelihood, Hillary Clinton would be president right now if Obama had gone public in September or October with what he knew about Putins make further efforts to steal the election. But even if such presidential truth telling had boomeranged politically, it would have defined a name-and-shame precedent about how the United States responds to all foreign efforts to tamper with an election.

The closest parallel to Obamas pre-election agony was the choice that Lyndon Johnson faced at a similar crossroad in the autumn of 1968. Johnson learned that Richard Nixon was working with Anna Chennault to convince the South Vietnamese government to scuttle peace talks with Hanoi. In writing his new Nixon biography, John A Farrell discovered smoking-gun memos detailing how the Republican presidential nominee successfully sought to monkey wrench any Vietnam breakthrough before the election.

Johnsons volcanic Texas personality had little in common with Obamas willfully calm self-restraint. But even though LBJ at the time likened Nixons actions to treason, he too ultimately maintained his silence before the election, in part because he could not conclusively demonstrate his case.

What unites Johnson and Obama through the mists of day is their reciprocal shock that such tactics would ever be employed in a presidential election either by a sinister figure in American politics or a foreign leader steeped in KGB espionage.

Now that America has lost its collective innocence, any chairman, beginning with Trump, who fails to respond to Russian provocations deserves to be excoriated by both parties.

Read more: www.theguardian.com