There is one burning question raised by the possibility of President Obama traveling to Russia and meeting with thug-in-chief Vladimir Putin in September.

It is: Why is this even a question?

Obama shouldn’t just cancel the trip. He should go on national television and tear up the ticket. Each hour of diplomatic hand-wringing — should he or shouldn’t he? — diminishes Putin’s respect for him and for this country, which, by the way, already had to be minimal, given Putin’s granting of asylum to the whistle-blower or traitor, take your pick, Edward Snowden.

Under Putin, Russia has been of little help to the United States on world issues. Most recently, it has supported Syrian President Bashar Assad despite Assad’s total disregard for civilian lives as he fights off insurgents. Russia’s own human rights record is dismal: Putin recently signed a law banning the public discussion of gay rights or relationships anywhere around children, horrifying enlightened people everywhere and casting a shadow over the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Unlike Bradley Manning, who encountered information during his service to this country and felt compelled to reveal it, Snowden deliberately sought access to classified information he could reveal. His disclosures have led to ongoing U.S. embarrassment and soul searching over massive surveillance operations that concern us and many Americans. They also are alleged to have seriously compromised national security.

Given the seriousness of the charges against Snowden, the nation that thumbed its nose at the U.S. to offer him asylum is unlikely to be a friend in other ways.

If Obama has a hankering to do something self-destructive in September, perhaps he could plan a swimming vacation at the Fukushima Daiichi reactor. That would be stupid, but not as stupid as meeting with Putin.


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