Once upon a time in America, certain Republicans made it a habit to accuse certain Democrats of being suspiciously soft on Communism in general and the Russian regime in particular.
Back then, the term “red state” would define a government touting the ideas of Karl Marx, not Kentucky.
Back then, GOP President Ronald Reagan would giddily quip as he did in 1984: “I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.”
Now we have the stunning sight of a Democratic White House suggesting an incoming Republican president colluded with top Russians to subvert a United States election.
The major parties’ role reversal, of course, grew out of the Soviet Union’s collapse in the 1990s. For some raised during the Cold War, the switch still has a weird feel to it.
Never mind that the current leader in the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin, served in the KGB in his youth.
This is a world in which first son-to-be Donald Trump Jr. said at a real estate conference in 2008: “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.
“We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”
Such a statement during the Cold War would have sounded like science fiction.
But Washington, D.C., Democrats, obviously vexed over alleged Russian hacking of loser Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, seem to believe today that under a non-Soviet kleptocracy, Moscow can be a hostile force.
A number of elected Republicans have said the same.
And Trump’s denials of President Barack Obama’s assertions on the topic put the next president in the odd position of sounding like those Cold War doves who downplayed a Russian threat from, say, the federation’s fighters in eastern Ukraine.
Meanwhile, we see a return of the kind of bombastic verbal exchanges that marked the international political noise of the old Soviet days.
Suddenly, Clinton emerged Friday to claim Putin ordered the hacks “because he has a personal beef against me.” She told this to a group of big donors, who seem to be the worthy recipients of her major explanation since Election Day.
Obama has vowed ambiguously to take action. Cyberwarfare tends to take place without the world noticing.
Putin replied: “They need to either stop talking about this or finally present some sort of proof.”
None of it reaches the tone of vowing “We will bury you” or condemning “the aggressive impulses of an evil empire.”
But the rhetoric has a certain old-time flavor — from before the days of Gazprom, policy “resets” and Ukrainian energy billionaires. Given Trump’s Putin admiration, these rumblings from the Oval Office sound likely to end in January.