After months of cheering Trump’s assertions that the Russians had nothing to do with hacking the DNC during the election, even the most ardent of Trump’s supporters are now beginning to acknowledge that maybe the Russians were behind the hacking after all. And that it was done in an effort to promote Trump’s chances of victory. Apparently, even with their blinders on, they could not totally dismiss the findings of the intelligence report released Friday.
But don’t get ready to get off your chair and applaud. Nothing has really changed.
On the surface, the revelations should not present a problem for Trump or his supporters. After all, Trump had nothing directly to do with the hacking (other than perhaps behaving in a way that made him more likable to Putin). And even if it could be proven that Clinton would have won the election had the hacking not taken place (which can never be proven anyway), it doesn’t make Trump’s victory illegitimate. A lot of things might have shifted the election results had they been different. This is just one of them. Such speculation certainly won’t cause the results to be overturned. Trump won and remains the winner. End of story.
And yet…much like Trump himself…his supporters seem so threatened by the potential political implications of these findings…that they feel compelled to discredit the findings in any way they can. Even when such efforts make no sense. As cited in this New York Times article, Trump’s supporters are crying “sour grapes” and “bunch of crybabies.” I’m sorry, but who exactly is the crybaby here? Is the implication that the entire U.S. intelligence community is under the control of the Democratic party — and that the Democrats are thus behind the report? Even for paranoid-leaning conservatives, that seems a stretch.
It doesn’t stop there. As the headline of the article indicates, the shift has gone from “the Russians didn’t do it” to “who cares if they did?” Or, as one person interviewed said of the Russian interference, “If that’s what it took, I’m glad they did it.”
The lack of self-insight reflected by these comments is sadly disturbing (although not at all surprising given what we know from prior coverage). For one thing, its hypocrisy violates the golden rule of politics (as I covered in the previous posting here). That is, let’s imagine that Clinton had won the election due to Russian hacking directed against Trump. Would these same people still be saying “Big deal” and “Who cares”? If your answer is anywhere in the vicinity of “yes,” there’s a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.
The Trump supporters’ reactions also show a strangely cavalier attitude to what amounts to a foreign government’s intrusion into our essential democratic processes — a reaction that would seem to be at odds with typical right wing conservative positions. Apparently, if some fact negatively impacts Trump, denying or trivializing the fact trumps all other considerations.
Finally, a minor gripe: The New York Times article in question, which quoted conservatives in Louisiana and Indiana, was on today’s front page, above the fold. Why? This is hardly news anymore. I’m not against hearing the conservative viewpoint. In fact, I want to know what it is. But we’ve seen variations of this article over and over — for months. It’s now about as interesting as discovering that progressives in California and Massachusetts have a starkly different view. We’re not learning anything new. Trump supporters will filter any information they get so that it still winds up favoring Trump. We get it. Enough already. Their myopia doesn’t deserve to keep getting this much attention.