"We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst." — C.S. Lewis
I'm old enough to remember Republicans continually warning that Democrats would surrender our country to the Russians.
It's funny how things turn out.
The news broke late Friday, a Washington Post story headlined, "Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win the White House." It said in part:
The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.
Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.
“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.”
As I have long contended: crisis reveals character. As in when Phoenix Bishop Thomas O'Brien hit a 43-year-old man with his Buick. Had O'Brien stopped and rendered first aid, called 911, administered last rites, he would have been a hero. Instead, he fled and the next morning called his secretary to arrange for his windshield to be replaced. But another driver got his license tag after the hit-and-run. He became the first Roman Catholic bishop to be convicted of a felony.
Faced with the Washington Post story, President-elect Trump had the opportunity to immediately call for an independent investigation into the Russian penetration of the American election. Instead, he berated the agency and defended Russia. He prepared to name Vladimir Putin's close confident and Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. Crisis reveals.
Let's go back to the third debate. Hillary Clinton said, "...what's really important about WikiLeaks is that the Russian government has engaged in espionage against Americans. They have hacked American websites, American accounts of private people, of institutions. Then they have given that information to WikiLeaks for the purpose of putting it on the Internet. This has come from the highest levels of the Russian government, clearly, from Putin himself, in an effort, as 17 of our intelligence agencies have confirmed, to influence our election." Specifically, the Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee and WikiLeaks published the emails.
She was correct, more correct than she knew, especially in an election that hinged on some 80,000 votes in three critical states (as it stands, she won the popular vote by more than 2.8 million votes). Trump's response was to invite Russia to hack Clinton. Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was forced to resign over his ties to Russia. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said FBI Director James Comey was sitting on "explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government."
The media yawned and instead emphasized Comey's last-minute — and probably game changing — release of the bureau's inquiry into new Clinton emails. Only they weren't new and proved to be innocent. At the same time, they were downplaying or completely ignoring Trump's very real scandals and extensive conflicts of interest.
Meanwhile, Trump was saying the election was rigged. Projecting, much?
Top election forecaster Nate Silver put it this way: Clinton lost Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Michigan by around 1 point. If not for Comey and Russia, she probably would have won them all by 2 points and her strategy would have looked great. Indeed — and the consequences of vote suppression against Democrats are another shoe waiting to fall out of Trump's crowded closet. If Clinton would have won any of those states, she would be president-elect.
If George McGovern had been helped by the Soviet Union in the 1972 election, it would have been a rather big deal, an act of war. Or imagine if Hillary had publicly asked the Kremlin to hack Donald Trump's emails — and the Kremlin had obliged. She would have been instantly disqualified as a candidate and rightly faced a criminal investigation.
With the tables turned, few Republicans stepped up (honorable exceptions include Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and Marco Rubio). One of the jaw-dropping parts of the Post's scoop was this: "In September, during a secret briefing for congressional leaders, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) voiced doubts about the veracity of the intelligence, according to officials present." Now McConnell's wife, Elaine Chao, has a position in Trump's cabinet.
Nor did much of the press have a hair-on-fire epiphany. As Paul Krugman commented on Twitter: "Question: are journos expressing shock or puzzlement over Trump/R response to CIA, Tillerson, etc. really that naive? Are they only now beginning to grasp what we've been trying to tell them all along -- that Rs are not a normal party, that they'll do anything to win? Faced with subversion of American democracy by foreign govt and rogue FBI, 'Hillary should have run a better campaign' not a good response."
But on Meet the Press Sunday, the odious Reince Priebus was still claiming no conclusive evidence existed that Russia had tried to influence the election. Politifact rated this false. Now we know one reason for Republican reticence, besides their feral hunger to gain complete power. The Russians also hacked the RNC, but held back passing the information along to WikiLeaks. Thus, Putin has leverage over the leadership of the Republican Party and can blackmail them. Among those keeping silent for days was the "serious policy wonk," Speaker Paul Ryan. The man committed to dismantling Social Security.
It's no secret why Putin would seek to install Trump as his stooge, his Quisling. Trump would help to fatally weaken NATO, an impediment to Russian expansion and revanchism. If the Republicans further destroy the country through their policies and turn us against each other even more, these are added extra bonuses.
This is worse than Watergate. It won't go away. It must not be allowed to go away.
In an ideal world, a new election would be called. The Senate has the power to call an emergency session to do just this. We need the Obama administration to release all it knows about the truly fixed election and Russian involvement as soon as possible, certainly before the Electoral College meets on Dec. 19th. There should be massive protests, and not only in the safe downtowns of blue cities. Every patriot should be outraged.
All my life, I've seen Americans befuddled by the existence of the Electoral College, a seeming anachronism from the 18th century. In the left-wing echo chamber, it has been derided as something to perpetuate slavery.
In fact, the Electoral College was a carefully crafted compromise by the framers of the Constitution. The Constitutional Convention began with the notion that the president would be elected by Congress. Distant states didn't want to be excluded from the gathering of electors on a certain date. This position was gradually eroded by those who argued convincingly that it would make the chief executive overly dependent on Congress and contravene the checks and balances they were trying to establish. As support for an independent presidency grew, many wanted him elected by electors selected by state legislatures. The system of electors acting on the decision of the majority of voters only came late in the convention.
Hardly any of the framers supported a direct popular vote. They had studied Athens and the Roman Republic and mistrusted the whims of temporary "passions." Thus, the Constitution was filled with checks and balances, as well as indirect democracy. All the democracies of antiquity had failed, often degenerating into mob rule. Going back to the Federalist Papers, there was a need seen to have electors that would prevent the ascension to the presidency of someone unfit or under the sway of a foreign prince or potentate.
So here we are and the Electoral College matters more than anytime in history. It is the firewall against this monster called Donald Trump. This traitor. Electors could vote for Mike Pence or Ted Cruz — or Hillary Clinton. The only question is whether they will be robots or patriots.
If the former, we will have an illegitimate president, one who attained office through fraud and the assistance of the prince of Moscow. And we shall see what this country is made of.