A Dwindling Conservative Pretense

#PutiToots | #WhatTheyVotedFor

A child walks past a graffiti depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on the walls of a bar in the old town in Vilnius, Lithuania, 14 May 2016. (Photo by Mindaugas Kulbis/AP Photo)

“Note, in this three-sentence statement, Team Trump (1) attacked the U.S. intelligence community in order to defend Russia; (2) flagrantly lied about the 2016 election results; and (3) and made no effort to deny the accuracy of the revelations, saying instead that we should ‘move on,’ rather than acknowledge Russian intervention in the American election, which Republicans chose to overlook, apparently to advance their own interests.”

Steve Benen

This is, genuinely, extraordinary. For all people wish to carry on about “both sides” and all that, some days it seems worth noting that there really is a difference.

Steve Benen of msnbc:

Looking ahead, there are a variety of angles to keep an eye on as this historic scandal continues to unfold:

* Trump’s incredulity: In a Fox News interview that aired yesterday, Trump characterized the intelligence community’s findings as “ridiculous.” He did not explain, however, what incentive the agencies would have to lie. Sometime soon, the president-elect will likely face a question he may struggle to answer: “What did Donald Trump know about Russia’s efforts to get him elected, and when did he know it?”

* The RNC: The New York Times reported that Russia also hacked the Republican National Committee, but Putin’s government chose to keep its findings under wraps. The RNC insists this reporting is inaccurate, but if the RNC isn’t telling the truth, it’s a damning detail. It also raises the question of what, if anything, Russia may have on the RNC that the foreign foe is choosing to hold onto.

* Congressional investigation: Democrats want a thorough investigation into these allegations, and a handful of Republican senators agree. But much of the GOP is still holding back, with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) denouncing Russian interference without any mention of the need for a formal probe.

A commenter to Mr. Benen’s post identifies as a Boomer and notes, “I remember what it was like during the Cold War”, and this is an important point. The commenter continues, “What PLANET are we on when the suggestion that Russia interfered in our election DOESN’T trigger massive outrage and investigation?”

It seems a fair question, but the linchpin of the #trumpswindle is whether or not Donald Trump’s voters and supporters actually care. Or, perhaps, we might more accurately wonder at their priorities. After all, it makes for a nifty zinger to suggest they get played by Russian trolls, international misinformation bloggers, and botnets around the world because they want to, but variable-reward assertions of political wit do little to actually answer the questions they invoke. As evidence of foreign influence emerges, Republicans are already signaling they are just fine with this. Say what we will about the lulzaholics, but for the rest of Donald Trump’s supporters the question of being complaisant assets remains.


Image note: Photo by Mindaugas Kulbis/AP Photo

Benen, Steve. “Russian efforts to boost Trump campaign jolt political world”. msnbc. 12 December 2016.

Entous, Adam, Ellen Nakashima, and Greg Miller. “Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House”. The Washington Post. 9 December 2016.

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