Saturday, December 10, 2016


As you probably know, The Washington Post is reporting that the CIA is certain the Russian government interfered in our election on Donald Trump's behalf:
The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.

Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.

I'm trying to imagine what Republicans would do in this situation if the parties were reversed. Before the election I predicted that Republicans might not accept a Hillary Clinton victory as legitimate, even one under far less suspicious circumstances than Trump's win. Forget the Russians -- if a Clinton victory had been predicated on 100,000 votes in three states, especially (but not necessarily) if she'd lost the overall popular vote, Republicans en masse would be shouting "Voter fraud!" Quite a few would be demanding that Democratic electors refuse to vote for her.

Could they actually have kept her from the White House if the electors went ahead and voted for her? They would have a means to do so. The question is whether they would have used it:
Since 1887, 3 U.S.C. 15 sets the method for objections to electoral votes. During the Joint Session, Members of Congress may object to individual electoral votes or to state returns as a whole. An objection must be declared in writing and signed by at least one Representative and one Senator. In the case of an objection, the Joint Session recesses and each chamber considers the objection separately in a session which cannot last more than two hours with each Member speaking for no more than five minutes. After each house votes on whether or not to accept the objection, the Joint Session reconvenes and both chambers disclose their decisions. If they agree to the objection, the votes in question are not counted. If either chamber does not agree with the objection, the votes are counted.
I think there would have been Republican challenges to some of Clinton's electors. I suspect the party leadership would have decided in advance that it would do too much political damage to the GOP to use this means to actually deny Clinton the presidency. But who knows? In any case, I think the challenges would have happened, just to ensure that Clinton entered the White House under a cloud of suspicion.

And if Republicans were the minority party in Congress, and couldn't simply ratify Electoral College objections, then I think they'd have made them anyway, just to engender that suspicion.

That's what Democrats should do this year, at a minimum: They should formally challenge Trump electoral votes in every Republican state, citing the Russian hack. They should talk about this in every media forum. They should say that they'll reluctantly accept Trump's presidency if the Electoral College chooses him, but they don't consider this a legitimate election. I don't think that there's much more a minority party in Congress can do.

If you consider me too pessimistic, and believe that the Electoral College can still save us, then I'd say this is the time for prominent Democrats to say, repeatedly and with message discipline, that electors in Republican states must vote for the popular-vote winner and target of a foreign power's election skulduggery, Hillary Clinton -- not Kasich or Mitt Romney or Ronald Reagan's corpse. The patriotic choice is Clinton.

If enough prominent Democrats say this, maybe it will be seen as a legitimate, within-the-pale response to the situation. Right now, except on the left, it isn't seen that way.

I don't think it will work. For decades, heartland Americans have accepted the notion that the patriotic, good-of-the-country party is always the GOP; Democrats are the party of anti-Americanism and even treason. That's an idea that's been taught to Americans by a succession of Republic leaders, from Joe McCarthy to Goldwater to Nixon to Reagan to Limbaugh and Ailes. That's why I think it's so difficult for the country to wrap its mind around what's really happening.


UPDATE: I'd like to elaborate on what I said in that last paragraph. The Post story tells us that the Obama administration proceeded cautiously when presented with this information during the campaign. Officials presented members of Congress with evidence of Russian interference, but Mitch McConnell chose party over country, as usual:
The Democratic leaders in the room unanimously agreed on the need to take the threat seriously. Republicans, however, were divided, with at least two GOP lawmakers reluctant to accede to the White House requests.

According to several officials, McConnell raised doubts about the underlying intelligence and made clear to the administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics.
President Obama is being criticized for this:

But I agree with Josh Marshall:

Howard Wolfson has tweeted:

But this gets back to the idea of Republicans as the party of patriotism and Democrats as the party of anti-Americanism. Go public in the heat of a campaign with unfounded allegations harmful to the Democratic candidate? That's just patriotism, because it's always legitimate to be suspicious of Democrats, whose mission in life is to deliberately harm America. Go public with allegations that hurt the Republican? You're subverting democracy! I'm sorry, but this is what much of heartland America believes. The GOP is poised at all times to push a narrative of that kind, and the Democrats aren't poised to do the opposite. The mainstream media accepts that GOP allegations are legitimate. Democrats don't get the same benefit of the doubt, even from the so-called liberal media.

When pro-Trumpers in the FBI pushed the email story back into the news cycle in late October, the emails were the story. If the Obama administration had made more of a stink about Russian interference, his "partisanship" would have been the story. Regrettably, that's just how it works.


Buford said...

It is all about messaging...and we lost the messaging being nice guys....

mlbxxxxxx said...

This is a golden opportunity for Dems to make lemonade from some pretty sour lemons. My money's on them not taking advantage of this.

Carol Ann said...

If your whole reason for existence is power, and NOT the good of your fellow citizens, then you don't care if you are a traitor or subverting democracy or destroying the planet. The GOP is the Grasping Old Powergrabbers, not anything Grand about them, And to think that the Democrats, in response, have devolved into a faint echo of the robust populism of the 30s and 40s. It sort of makes you want to wring your hands and whine.

Joey Blau said...

"prominent Democrats to say, repeatedly and with message discipline" is something never seen in my lifetime. Say it once in some convoluted whimpering sort of mumble, and then never speak of it again.

Dems suck at messaging. Alan grayson was the best we had and look at the support he got. Weiner wasn't so bad sometimes, before he blew himself (up).

Then we have no echo chamber, no megaphone and no one willing to go on a talk show 50 times. Look at fn John McCain! And now this kellyann person. Workhorses on the circuit.

The New York Crank said...

Switching enough electors to make a difference is highly unlikely.

However, latest indications point to a concerted (and likely successful) effort by Trumplicans to kill, or at least grievously maim Social Security and Medicare. When that happens,hundreds of thousands of Trump voters who are suddenly broke and without medical recourse will begin voting Democratic again.

Unless, of course, The Trumpeter and his generals declare martial law and "postpone" the elections. Nothing would surprise me.

Yours crankily,
The New York Crank

Victor said...

Carol Ann,
I'm convinced that conservatives/Republiansw would gladly assist in the torturing of their own mothers --even to death - if it meant some political gain for them.

Party over people!
Party over country!!
PARTY UBER ALLES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gerald Lillpop said...

Stop smoking dope before writing this blog. tRumps presidency is over right now. He can't bully his way out of this. What everyone fails to understand is Der Pumpkin Fuehrer insulted the intelligence community during the primary's and general election. The last president that challenged this community was John Kennedy and we know how that turned out. The CIA, NSA and any other alphabet soup spy agency will be gunning for Der Pumpkin Fuehrer. Why do you think this got out? Why do you think they have targeted McConnell? Why do you think there is an emphasis on McConnell's wife getting a job with Der Pumpkin Fuehrer. The CIA ect. play rough and for keeps. Good luck to Der Pumpkin Fuehrer being as how he trashed talked them in order to rile up the rubes.

Grung_e_Gene said...

This is just Game Theory over and over. Republicans always defect while Democrats cooperate. The countyr is hurt by this but, the REpublicans come out ahead of the REpublicans. Then the game is reset and the Republicans swear they will cooperate and when it comes time they defect again. Until Democrats adopt a Tit-for-Tat or better still a Double Tit-for-Tat they will come out behind.

Now of course this is no way to run a country but, as we can see with Trump's Second Place Victory, cabinet picks, and Republican plan to swindle social security right away things are already looking as worst-case scenario so why cooperate ever again?

RAM said...

I continue to fail to understand why anyone, from President Obama on down, somehow thinks getting the GOP angry with them is something they can and should avoid. The GOP is ALWAYS angry with all Democrats, so the default ought to be to tell the truth and damn the torpedoes. It's not going to make anyone on the right wing any angrier than they already are. I can't for the life of me figure out why Dems continue to think otherwise. Worried about looking bad? Great! Now we've got a Russia-approved and abetted kleptocracy that's also likely treasonous installed in D.C. Was it really worth it? Really?

Belvoir said...

"Heartland" Americans who voted for Trump are morons who ought to go fuck themselves in the ear. This scandal of Russian tampering in the election ought to be hung around Trump's neck forever, paint him as illegitimate, hang the whole thing on the GOP for tolerating a foreign despot interfering in our elections. Imagine the outcry if this subversion was done on behalf of a Democrat- it would be insane. Our worthless media will try and sweep ALL this nasty business under the rug, just you watch.

applequeen said...

To Buford ... you can't beat bullies by being nice. Which is why the Dems are losing to the GOP.