As I engage on social media with people who keep telling me how the Russians stole the election for Trump, and how, apparently, Trump was aware of this and should have done something about it, it occurs to me that, as usual, there are a LOT of rumors, innuendos, accusations, allegations, and just plain conspiracy theories being slung about. I’d like to try to put some kind of perspective and logic to it all, if I may.
- I don’t think there’s much doubt that the Russians hacked the DNC and the Clinton campaign. There appears to be a pretty strong consensus among the intelligence community that that is correct, while there is NOT consensus about motive or the effectiveness of the Wikileaks revelations in changing the results of the election.
- I have NOT seen any official claims of linkage between the Russians and Wikileaks, and in most of the articles I’ve read, in which the intelligence community, the FBI, and even the president are quoted, they stop short of making that connection. They claim that the Russians did hack the DNC and Clinton’s campaign, but they do NOT allege that the Russians gave the information to Wikileaks. One has to wonder why.
- Julian Assange, who normally is not coy about his sources, has been adamant that the Russians are NOT the source of the emails he published on Wikileaks. He has said, repeatedly, that it came from an inside leak, and the source is someone in the DNC.
- While clearly, it is possible that Assange and the Russians are lying, it is also possible that they are not, and I find it curious that our intelligence community has not provided any linkage, nor have they explained the rationale behind their conclusions, and more importantly, not all agencies appear to be in agreement about what, precisely happened. While people like Harry Reid bluster, scream, and yell, making outrageous accusations without a shred of evidence, I prefer evidence and it simply has not been presented to date. If Reid and those claiming conspiracy have such proof or evidence, they should present it or shut up.
- I have seen (and participated in) discussions in which people claim that Putin ordered the hacking, that Trump and the RNC knew about and were complicit in it, that Trump and the RNC should have “done something” about it, that this amounts to a “bloodless coup”, that Putin stole the election for Trump, that FBI Director Comey was part of this conspiracy, else why would he fulfil his promise to congress to divulge any additional evidence that came to light, even as he broke world speed records in determining, before the election, that there was, in fact, NO new evidence or reason to change his earlier, June decision not to press charges against Hillary Clinton, and worse. Frankly, I find some of the outrage ridiculous.
- While it IS reprehensible, nasty, and just plain wrong that the Russians hacked the DNC and the Clinton campaign, we should ask ourselves what the actual impact has been, assuming they did give the information to Wikileaks (which is NOT a foregone conclusion).
- The emails that were published, mostly from John Podesta, were internal emails.
- Podesta has NOT contested the veracity of the emails – i.e. the emails are real, truly his emails, and they reflect what he was saying to and hearing from other members of the campaign.
- The emails paint a not very complimentary picture of Podesta, Clinton, and the campaign, and possibly did have some impact on the opinions of some voters.
- Was it enough to sway the outcome of the election? I, personally, doubt it, and that view is shared by many, including President Obama.
- One might view the release of the emails as an event that sheds light on, and exposes the truth about one of the candidates. That is the highest form of transparency – showing us who our candidate and her staff really are. It is a rare glimpse into the “private persona” mentioned by Mrs. Clinton in her famous statement (which became public, much to her chagrin) that politicians should have both public and private persona. Hers became visible, and many people were not favorably impressed.
- The outrage on the left seems to be focused on the hacking and publication of the emails AS THE REASON CLINTON LOST, as well as on the basic intrusiveness. It is curious that these same people are not incensed at hacking and interference by OUR government into the Russian and other political processes – just this year, President Obama sent a team to Tel Aviv to actively work to prevent Prime Minister Netanyahu’s re-election. Netanyahu was re-elected handily in spite of our interference. Yet, that seems to bother almost no-one on the left. Why not?
For me, the bottom line in all of this is that we have a history of our NSA spying on the emails and phone calls of foreign leaders (Netanyahu and Angela Merkel come immediately to mind), yet, we are incensed when a foreign power does the same to us? Is it somehow ok for us to do it, but not for them to do it to us?
I don’t think so. I think it’s wrong, either way, but I’m also enough of a realist to understand that my outrage is not going to make it stop. We, and they will continue to spy on one another and our political associations and organizations. It is a fact of life in today’s cyber-society, and we would do better to focus our outrage on just how poorly candidates like Mrs. Clinton think of us, the American people.
If, and when our intelligence community comes out with a unified statement linking the hacking to the Russians, along with proof that the Russians delivered the emails to Wikileaks, I will be happy to accept it as fact. Until then, I will remain skeptical.
As an aside to my more “liberal” friends who, when I attempt to inject some logic and perspective into arguments like this one, no, I am not “defending or supporting” Trump or the Republican Party, no, I’m not a Republican, nor am I a “true” “conservative. I simply like to see facts and evidence before making up my mind that something is true.
I would strongly recommend and urge that you do the same, and that is NOT a partisan preference.