Few things pain me as much as typing these proper nouns in the same sentence: This morning, President Trump refused to rebuke Russia for its role interfering with the 2016 election while standing alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin during their hotly-awaited summit in Helsinki.
To be (slightly) fair, this was a pretty newsworthy deal! Trump was asked point blank whether he sides with the consensus of America’s national security apparatus about Russia’s role, which Putin denied, as he has before. Trump said he didn’t see “any reason why it would be” Russia’s fault and, once again, boasted about his 2016 victory.
“I beat Hillary Clinton easily,” Trump told reporters, adding, “We won that race and it’s a shame that there can even be a little bit of a cloud over it.”
When it was all over, everyone lost their goddamn minds, as if Trump had pulled off his human-face mask to reveal a Kremlin-built Manchurian cyborg or formally announced he was annexing the contiguous U.S. to Russia.
Journalists and pundits led the pack of the Gravely Concerned:
As, of course, were elected officials:
Along with members of the political class and the apparatus Trump has repeatedly trashed:
And, of course, whatever regurgitated chum this stuff qualifies as:
Let’s get this out of the way: Based on all the available evidence, Russia did “hack” our elections apparatus. But Putin didn’t single-handedly elect Trump over Clinton. To believe otherwise is to embrace a protective magical thinking which conveniently absolves us of any duty to take a hard look inward at the factions that united to elect Trump.
It’s worth scrutinizing what people are really mad about when they tweet things like this. Are they most mad that Trump is siding against the American national intelligence community, which has a bloody legacy of influencing elections abroad when it suits its own interests and trampling its own citizens’ civil liberties? Are they angry that Trump continually refuses to admit black and white truth staring him in the face, which would give Clinton even a second of solace? Or are they most inflamed at the notion that the international order is shifting away from a place where American might comes first and must be deferred to in all matters of war, peace, and beyond around the world? Just some thoughts to ponder.