News & Politics

The Myth That Won't Die: Trump Won Because Putin Wanted Him To

Hillary Clinton speaks to an audience as she promotes her new book "What Happened", Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017 in Toronto. (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press via AP)

The myth that is driving Robert Mueller’s collusion investigation was being pushed by the Clinton campaign and the Obama White House in the immediate aftermath of the election.

Only Russian “meddling” kept Hillary Clinton from being elected president.

CNN continues to perpetrate the myth with this story on the Mueller indictments.

If the allegations of the indictment prove true, it seems probable that the Russians were successful in their multimillion-dollar effort to influence the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. Of course the answer to this complex question will never be definitively known. Polling cannot tell us whether voters might have chosen differently if the Russian influence operation hadn’t happened.

What is known, however, is that the election was close and voter shifts in just a few significant states could have changed the Electoral College vote count in a presidential election in which Hillary Clinton won the popular vote.

The President, of course, has consistently been assuring the American public that the investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller is all about a “hoax” and that it’s a “witch hunt” largely supported by the forces of “Crooked Hillary Clinton” and the “fake news,” which can roughly be defined as any news organization that offers any coverage that reflects badly on Donald Trump.

Spouting this myth makes a pundit seem wise and observant. It’s actually a load of crap. The indictment of 13 Russian trolls and some oligarchs only proves Russia spent a lot of money trying to influence the election. But pundits who use the Russian meddling story to try and “prove” something about the election outcome are talking through their hats. Mueller proved Russian attempts to meddle in the election. He came nowhere near proving that it mattered.

Mueller quietly and effectively disposed of those claims in his detailed explanation of how the Russian government literally sought to hack and hijack America’s most important election by creating truly fake social media posts and protests designed to support the candidacy of Donald Trump (and in the primaries, Bernie Sanders) while sabotaging the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. The indictments revealed Russia’s use of an assortment of dirty tricks in heavily funded efforts to deceive the American public.

Once more, and with feeling: Hillary Clinton lost because she was the absolute worst Democratic candidate in the history of that party. No one else in the 218 years of that party comes close.  Not Jimmy Carter. Not Adlai Stevenson. Not Al Smith. Not any Democrat who ended up getting creamed on election day.

Consider: Clinton had a Gallup disapproval rating of 57% on election day. That’s not just underwater. It’s six feet under.

Trump led Hillary Clinton in trustworthiness and honesty by 8 points on election day. That’s right, Trump, an inveterate liar, dominated Hillary Clinton in gaining the trust of the American people.

The right question would be how she got so close in the first place. Against any other Republican candidate, she would have been slaughtered — a blowout Electoral College win that would have easily rivaled Obama’s re-election numbers.

Perhaps rather than Russian meddling or the Comey email letter, Democrats should be looking harder at the miserable performance of their candidate. A clear majority hated her. Only 45% of her voters on election day were enthusiastic about her candidacy. The first female candidate of a major party in U.S. history and she could only get 45% of Democrats enthusiastic about her? And Democrats are blaming the blooming Russians?

The biggest problem with the myth that Russian meddling cost Hillary the election is the sublime ignorance of those promulgating it about the American voter. Russia could have bought a billion dollars in ads and not changed any minds. How do we know? Hillary bought half a billion bucks in ads and lost.

The polls barely flickered between the end of the conventions and the election. Voters had made up their minds about both candidates far in advance and nothing would have moved the needle enough to give Clinton the presidency.

In some Democratic circles, it’s considered a sexist sacrilege to blame Hillary for her own loss. Indeed, the second favorite reason she lost among Hillary partisans is that evil white men denied her the presidency because, sexism. That codswallop will persist on the left even after the first woman is elected.

She will probably be a Republican.