“Have we ever tried to meddle in other countries’ elections?” Laura Ingraham asked former CIA Director James Woolsey this weekend.
With a grin, Woolsey replied, “Oh, probably.”
“We don’t do that anymore though?” Ingraham interrupted. “We don’t mess around in other people’s elections, Jim?”
“Well,” Woolsey said with a smile, “only for a very good cause.”
(Pat Buchanan, who, for the record, I’m aware has gotten “pretty far out there”)
[I]f Putin’s mischief-making constituted an act of war against the United States, then the U.S. has committed acts of war against an astonishingly long list of countries since the end of World War II. One study estimates that we interfered with no fewer than 81 elections in 45 nations from 1946 to 2000. Such efforts have been so brazen and uncontroversial that former CIA Director James Woolsey recently felt comfortable laughing about them with Laura Ingraham on Fox News.
This doesn’t mean that we should respond to Putin’s program of manipulation with indifference. Far from it. But it does mean that a response of self-righteous indignation is risible. To treat such meddling as an act of war on the part of Russia is either to invoke a blatant double standard that permits the U.S. to do things we stridently denounce in others — or it’s to admit that our own actions have been far more pernicious than we like to think. We definitely need to protect the integrity of our elections, but we should do so without placing ourselves unconvincingly on the moral high ground.
If our meddling in other nations’ elections comes as a surprise to you, you really need to get out more.
The indignation and exaggeration about Russian election meddling disgusts me for reasons too numerous to list (well, some of them are at the sub-articulate level, too), but hypocrisy tops the list. Damon Linker is exactly right that we need to respond, but we make ourselves absurd by feigning clean hands. STFU and do what must be done.
Much as I detest 45, trying to portray him as a Manchurian Candidate is absurd. He serves no master save his own massive ego. Even mammon and mistresses are just means to stoke that fire.
The astonishing thing about Donald Trump’s response to Robert Mueller’s recent indictments is his inability to recognize that Russia’s interference in the 2016 election is about something bigger than him. Look closely at Trump’s tweets.
February 16: “Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!”
February 17: “General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems. Remember the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the Podesta Company!”
February 18: “I never said Russia did not meddle in the election, I said “it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer.” The Russian “hoax” was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia – it never did!”
Each tweet makes basically the same point: “Sure, Russia may have tried to undermine American democracy. But what really matters is that I never colluded with Putin and won the presidency fair and square.” Even if you believe that Trump is right—that his campaign never assisted Russia’s efforts to swing the election in his favor and that Russia’s efforts had no material effect on its outcome—the narcissism is breathtaking.
(Peter Beinart, The Atlantic, who then goes off the rails by implying that what Russia did was the equivalent of Pearl Harbor or 9/11)
Also, don’t forget the Time magazine story alluded to here.
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Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.