The average American is understandably perplexed as to why Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and, of course, runner-up in last year's Democratic primaries, Bernie Saunders, are so lathered up over the Republicans' recent overtures to the Russians. They are calling for the impeachment of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. They want a special prosecutor to look into President Donald Trump's relations with President Vladimir Putin. What has gotten into the Democrats? Why are they so bellicose toward Moscow?
What happened to detente? What happened to perestroika and glasnost? And how about their longtime fear of a "nuclear winter" and their longing for a "nuclear freeze"? The Democrats have always been big on mixing rhetoric with climate. Though admittedly, Mr. Putin and his fat cat cronies have changed over the years from the Soviets of old.
The old Soviet economy was something that Bernie Saunders and Mrs. Pelosi and even the Mr. Schumer of recent edition could identify with. In particular Bernie, the socialist, had more in common with the Soviet system than with American capitalism. The Soviet economy certainly made more sense to him than the wild swings of the American economy that we have today. Think of it: The stock market is up 10 to 12 percent since Donald Trump was elected. The giant corporations and Wall Street are doubtless making a killing. Those animal spirits that make him uneasy are even returning to the middle class. Bernie tried to warn us, but to no avail. Now Mr. Schumer and Mrs. Pelosi have let out a yell.
I well remember the glowing praise of yesterday's progressives for the Soviet economy. There were, for instance, John Kenneth Galbraith of Harvard and Lester Thurow of MIT in the 1980s enthusing over Soviet prosperity just as Mikhail Gorbachev was about to come to power. Of course, today's alarums, sounded by the Democrats, about the Republicans' approaches to the Kremlin were not heard in the 1970s and 1980s, at least not from the Democratic leadership. Then they talked of peaceful coexistence. What about peaceful coexistence with Mr. Putin?
Do you recall Sen. Edward Kennedy, the lion of the Senate, writing Soviet leaders Leonid Brezhnev and Yuri Andropov in secret correspondence aimed at undermining Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan? Most probably you do not. Such communications by Kennedy and former Democratic Sen. John Tunney to the KGB were not widely reported in the American media at the time. Yet, Sovietologists such as Herbert Romerstein and Paul Kengor have been reporting these contacts for years. Go ahead, google Kennedy and the KGB. The Times of London reported on them. Now the Democratic leadership is suspicious about ambiguous allegations of contacts between the "Trump campaign" and the "Russian government." The Mainstream Media even reports on such alleged contacts as "ties."
Jeff Sessions neglected to answer to the Democrats' satisfaction poorly constructed questions about two chance meetings he had with the current Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. Mr. Sessions is in hot water. Though Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, after tweeting that she has never met Mr. Kislyak, had to revise her tweets. Her own Twitter account revealed two meetings. Just like Mr. Sessions, she overlooked them. More recently, Mrs. Pelosi had to clarify her claim that she had never met Mr. Kislyak. A picture turned up showing her with him. In her clarification an aide to Mrs. Pelosi said, "She has never had a private one-on-one with him." Well, if it were a private meeting I assume there would be no pictures.
On that occasion, Mrs. Pelosi was actually meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. So Democratic bigwigs do occasionally meet with Mr. Putin's people. Which reminds me of President Obama's embarrassment with outgoing President Medvedev. Without knowing his microphone was on, the Democratic president told Mr. Medvedev to assure incoming President Putin that after the 2012 election he would have "more flexibility" in dealing with the Russians. Mr. Medvedev agreed, though Mr. Obama did not apparently find Mr. Putin so lovey-dovey.
So now the modern Russians are not as clubbable as the Democrats found the Russians of the Soviet era. They are not even as agreeable as Mr. Obama found them in 2012. Perhaps ordinary Americans, having read their history, can agree with me. These Democrats are mercurial. No wonder more and more Americans are coming to the conclusion that the country is in better hands with a real estate developer.
• R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is author of "The Death of Liberalism," published by Thomas Nelson Inc.