The 2016 election happened, and to almost everyone’s surprise, Donald Trump was the winner.
There had to be a reason, right? It couldn’t be that the Democrats had run possibly the least effective candidate in modern times, who promised to continue policies that had made hash of the health insurance system, resulted in the highest real unemployment and under-employment in modern history, never once achieved a reasonably robust level of economic growth and barely avoided an official recession on several occasions, and whose primary campaign theme seemed to be that she didn’t have a penis and, while the director of the FBI made it clear she had unconscionably and probably illegally violated every principle of information security with a bootleg email server, she hadn’t actually been indicted.
That couldn’t have been it. That’s crazy talk. According to the recent book “Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign,” by the day after her concession speech:
Mook and Podesta assembled her communications team at the Brooklyn headquarters to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up. For a couple of hours, with Shake Shack containers littering the room, they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument. (pg. 395)
And so began the “Russia hacked the election” trope, which is still being pushed with half-truths.
This has resulted in a new cottage industry: people “revealing” that Trump or someone working for Trump “committed treason” by talking to the Russians. Now, why talking to Russians would be “treason” they never quite fully explain — usually, if I ask, they say things like “open your eyes” or “do you have not even a bit of patriotism?” This, usually in response to my questioning something as screwy as Louise Mensch saying that Trump was hiding Russian Special Forces in Florida.
— Louise Mensch (@LouiseMensch) May 24, 2017
Now, according to Pew Research:
Nearly four-in-ten Democrats (39%) name Russia as the country that represents the greatest danger to the United States – the highest percentage expressing this view in nearly three decades, according to a new survey.
Compared with 2013, the last time this question was asked, greater shares in both parties volunteer Russia as posing the greatest danger to the U.S. – but nearly twice as many Democrats as Republicans now say this (39% vs. 21%)
The really crazy part of this is that we’ve seen it before — at least, we have if we’re old enough to remember when Dr. Strangelove was released. Minor spoiler here: Dr. Strangelove is about a nuclear war launched by General Jack Ripper, saying:
But today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought. I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.
It was a kind of crazy you heard from the John Birch Society, on late-night AM radio, and from cranky old men arguing in smoky blue-collar bars. It was generally understood to be crazy then — Jack D. Ripper was a heavy-handed bit of satire that everyone knew was over the top, just like the character’s name.
Now it’s being mainstreamed, consciously, in order to continue to undermine the Trump presidency and, I presume, get some kind of political benefit, or at least revenge themselves against the man who had the temerity to be a low-class vulgarian and still beat the Smartest Woman In The World. But it’s gotten to the point where the conspiracy theorists are talking about how they’re going to convict Trump of treason, and hang him from a lamppost, like Mussolini.
And I can’t see anything good coming of it.