By Brigitte L. Nacos
Imagine for a moment that Hillary Clinton had agreed to an interview on Russia’s state-owned RT television during last year’s presidential campaign and praised Vladimir Putin frequently as exemplary leader.
Imagine furthermore that as president-elect she had chosen as Secretary of State a man who received the Russian “Order of Friendship” award from Putin and that she appointed as National Security Advisor a conspiracy theorist who dined with the Russian president and appeared frequently on his RT propaganda arm.
Surely, Donald Trump and his supporters would have condemned Mrs. Clinton beyond their constant attacks on “crooked Hillary” as a clear and present danger in the highest office in the land and world.
But although Mr. Trump did all of the above—from his high praise for Putin to his appearance on RT and his selection of Secretary of State and National Security Advisor--, Republican leaders,his rank-and-file supporters, and his FOX News propagandists seem to find nothing wrong with his affinity for Mr. Putin and a host of other authoritarian rulers.
During the campaign Trump warned again and again of a “rigged election” and left no doubt that the Democrats were out to cheat.
Ironically, there is ample evidence of efforts to rig the election in favor of Trump by Russian hackers on behalf of Vladimir Putin and with the assistance of Julian Assange, the shady WikiLeaks operator, who released hacked material drip-by-drip during the general campaign.
While the Kremlin celebrated, the next president of the United States condemned our country’s intelligence community for its audacity to trace the hacking to the Russian adversary praising Assange and Putin instead.
And The Donald gets away with it!
As a Trump voter in Louisiana told a reporter in response to a question about Russian involvement in the election, “If that’s what it took, I’m glad they did it.”
Yes, John McCain (R-Ariz.), the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, presided last week over a revealing hearing on the hacking incidents (note that neither the mainstream media nor Democrats call it what it is—a scandal!).
But even Republican hawks walk on egg shells in order not to link Russian espionage to the outcome of the election in fear of Trump’s wrath.
His lashing out at the intelligence community was in defense of the legitimacy of his victory on November 8th and thus the legitimacy of his presidency.
In this new age of “post-truth” Mr. Trump has convinced his followers that he won the election in a landslide (he did not), that he actually won the popular vote (although Mrs. Clinton got nation-wide close to three million votes more than he), and that his presidency is legitimate--never mind Russian hacking.
History, however, will record the troublesome outside meddling just as it documented the dubious Supreme Court decision that handed George W. Bush the presidency 16 years ago.