Russian president Vladimir Putin’s name appears throughout the dossier composed by Christopher Steele, starting with the very first memo, dated 20 June 2016.
By August, after the Russia-backed WikiLeaks release of the DNC’s purloined email, the guys in the Kremlin were feeling blowback. This is where the phrase “Putin as bogeyman” surfaces.
It’s an odd coinage, giving the impression that the old KGB agent was a chimera, an imaginary figure out of Sendak’s book of childhood monsters. Here is the passage as it appears in the dossier:
There is a lot packed into that paragraph. Steele’s sign off date for the memo is 10 August 2016. For the prior two memos, he has relayed the growing concern among Kremlin officials over the cascading repercussions of their involvement in Trump’s campaign. In particular, the hack of the DNC (we now know this was a Russian operation) and publication by WikiLeaks had created a furor. The outrage surprised Putin – a reaction that shows just how much he demeans the idea of democracy and its practice by Americans.
The language itself is unsettling and it’s not known whether Steele is paraphrasing his source closely or using his own words to relay information. The tone is cynical, devious, soulless. Rather than show remorse or concern about how the brouhaha affects relations between the two countries, the Kremlin is coldly calculating. How can they continue with their pro-Trump campaign? That is their only interest.
They decide that – again with that dark cynicism – Putin will be transformed into a “bogeyman.” (Think of Sean Spicer and his Russian salad dressing comment.) They will deride the whole possibility of Russian interference (“No puppet. No puppet!” “No collusion.”). And they will cast aspersions upon the patriotism of Hillary Clinton (Examples are too numerous to mention.).
This derision for ethical behavior seen in the “Putin as bogeyman” memo is central to understanding the Kremlin climate. In fact, it parallels the behavior of Trump, his agents and his many enablers.
The real bogeyman in the room is the embrace of amorality. That is the monster resting in the White House, compliments of the bogeyman in the Kremlin.