Democrats liked secret-stealing Russians so much better when they called themselves Communists.
Alger Hiss’s Bokhara rug, 1929 Ford Roadster, Woodstock typewriter, fondness for prothonotary warblers, and papers in Whittaker Chambers’ pumpkin never quite shook the faith of the liberal faithful in the Harvard law grad’s innocence of espionage. Such Sputnik-high evidentiary standards evidently no longer apply.
Fred Kaplan states as fact at Slate that the Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee to help Donald Trump win the presidency. Then he presents as evidence that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange once hosted a show on RT (formerly Russia Today) and Trump occasionally receives financing from Russian investors. Kaplan contends that “evidence of Russian involvement is fairly clear,” citing that “the hackers’s work hours aligned with Moscow’s time zone, operations ceased on Russian holidays, their techniques carried signatures common to other Russian hacks, and their targets were of clear interest to Moscow.”
Such vague circumstantial and suppositional evidence preceded by certain conclusions, common enough beyond Kaplan during convention week in Philadelphia, strikes as an occasion to cart out the well-worn “Have you no sense of no decency, sir, at long last?” retort familiar to those raising concerns of aggressive Russian intrusions into American politics. It’s possible that Moscow hacked the DNC. But the Democrats now share as much proof buttressing this contention as the Republicans did on the Iraqis hiding vast caches of weapons of mass destruction.
True believers nevertheless truly believe.
Not everyone hoping for a Trump defeat repeats the talking points. The Nation magazine, which might have more honestly changed its name to The Hiss Weekly Vindicator under Victor Navasky’s editorship, demonstrates consistency here. The magazine editorializes that “representative voices of the liberal establishment have joined with the forces of neoconservatism to engage in what can only be described as McCarthyist rhetoric.” Translation? Trump, though not The Nation’s candidate, is no Manchurian candidate.
Malefactors often compound their offenses by shifting the blame on their accusers, the aggrieved party, or some other perceived enemy. The Democrat party panjandrums, like any number of narcissists encountered by Spectator readers in life, attempt now to Jedi Mind Trick such a role reversal. Rather than owning up to rigging the primary elections against Bernie Sanders, working in cahoots with “journalists” on messaging, and celebrating job loss and economic setbacks in North Carolina due to its bathroom law as “great” and “awesome” (truths skeptics suspected before they came to know them this past week), the Democrats paint themselves as the victims and Trump and those evil Russians and the Bernie-backing hackers as the villains. The convenience of the flattering narrative matches the inconvenience of the ugly revelations.
This crude deflection may work on weak-minded Renothingcrats or hard-wired Democrats. But it failed to dissipate the cloud cast over the Philadelphia convention for everybody else. A few arguments more principled than pragmatic in their approach at least might have sparked a different conversation than the current one born of gutter argumentation. The two that come to mind relate to the modern fetishes for complete transparency and against freedom of association.
In an oversharing, TMI age, people without shame operate without respect for secrets. A nation of exhibitionists naturally doubles as a country of voyeurs. We publicize the private on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and think those more modest guilty of covering up some dark, embarrassing truth. But parties, private entities only ostensibly committed to the public good, rate the right to strategize, compile unsavory information, and bounce around bad ideas away from the ears of eavesdroppers. The people cheering surreptitious surveillance on Mitt Romney’s musings on the 47 percent in a supporter’s home now find religion on the concept of privacy when their nominee suffers from unwanted intrusions.
The burglars who busted into the Watergate received prison sentences. The boosters of the guy who published the hack of the DNC want him awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his body of work. If only G. Gordon Liddy depicted himself as an electrician turning on a light rather than a plumber plugging leaks, he might have become a hero to our age of transparency.
And what is so wrong with the Democratic Party enjoying a say in the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party? For all but a few decades in the history of the republic, parties rather than primaries exerted the primary influence in determining the presidential candidate representing them. It’s called freedom of association, a right morphed into a wrong by open primaries and in a reductio ad absurdum way by allowing a lifelong socialist explicitly rejecting the “D” label to seek the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
The zeitgeist perhaps renders such points ineffectual. And sympathy remains in short supply for liars even when the methods of those exposing them ignore ethics and law. In a popularity contest, the proficient hackers win over the party hacks.