However, some respected newspapers, etc. have publicized the effort as though it represented a perfectly normal reaction under the circumstances. Media move to delegitimize Trump’s victory, Eddie Scarry, Washington Examiner, 12/18/16.
•New York Time columnist Paul Krugman called the outcome of the election “illegitimate” because Trump lost the popular vote and won the Electoral College “only thanks to foreign intervention and grotesquely inappropriate, partisan behavior on the part of domestic law enforcement."
•Slate writer Jamelle Bouie (appearing on CBS’s Face the Nation): "And ... if it is true, if we have further verification of this, then what it suggests potentially is that the election was in some sense illegitimate. And I don't know where you go from there."
•Daily Beast contributor Alan Gilbert: [His column] argued that early exit polling favored Clinton, leading many to believe she was headed for a win, and thus should cast doubt on the outcome. "In any other country, the U.S. State Department would declare the presidential election results a hoax."
•Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne: “. . . the post-election Trump has been as abusive and self-involved as he was during the campaign. The opposition’s job is to stand up and mitigate the damage he could do to our country.”
•Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker: "If there are 37 Republicans among [the electors] with the courage to perform their moral duty and protect the nation from a talented but dangerous president-elect, a new history of heroism will have to be written. Please, be brave."
The Russian hacking theory has also been supported to varying degrees by members of the US intelligence community, by the president, and by Hillary Clinton – although the administration’s concerns about alleged Russian cyberattacks were arguably not addressed in a timely manner.
Several months ago, there were reports attributing leaks of information from the files of the Democratic national committee and Clinton campaign adviser John Podesta – released by the WikiLeaks network headed by Julius Assange – to Russian hackers. Clinton defenders slam WikiLeaks as Trump, Russian dirty work. Sarah Westwood, Washington Examiner, 10/12/16.
Whatever the source of the leaked e-mails, it did not seem they were having much impact. Perhaps this helps to explain why the administration maintained a relatively low profile on the matter. WikiLeaks is breaking scandal upon scandal . . but the media is ignoring them, Warner Huston, constitution.com, 10/12/16.
Secretary of State John Kerry did publicly state that the US might respond in some fashion, but there were no reports of actions taken. Kerry threatens retaliation for Russian meddling in US elections, Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, 10/11/16.
Recently, with no fresh reports of Russian hacking, the president resurrected this issue and ordered an investigation that will supposedly be completed before he leaves office on January 20. Obama orders “full review” of cyberattacks during election, Gabby Morrongiello, Washington Examiner, 12/9/16.
WikiLeaks has denied that the e-mails released were obtained from Russian sources, and there are other possibilities – such as a leaker working for the Democratic National Committee - which cannot necessarily be ruled out. “Not Russians”: Who really was WikiLeaks’ DNC Deepthroat, Robert Romano, netrightdaily.com, 12/12/16.
When the president addressed this issue in a year-end press conference (and also an interview with NPR released around the same time), it was interesting to see how he threaded the needle. Press conference transcript, 12/16/16.
On one hand, the president stated that information obtained by Russian hackers had been released by WikiLeaks to the detriment of the Clinton campaign. Such activity could not be tolerated, and the US needed to respond in a manner that would “make sure that we are preventing that kind of interference through cyberattacks in the future.” The need for a US response should not be a partisan issue, but action had been deferred earlier due to a desire not to politicize the issue during the election campaign. He had now ordered a full review of the matter, which would be published – with necessary omissions to avoid giving away US sources and methods – in due course.
On the other hand, there was no evidence of Russian hacking of US electoral systems, attempts to alter voting results, etc., an activity that the president had warned Putin in early September might have serious consequences. The president ducked a question about how seriously the alleged Russian hacking/WikiLeaks disclosures had affected Clinton’s campaign, suggesting it might be more appropriate to focus on rebuilding a Democratic Party that had seemingly lost sight of working class voters. He wouldn’t comment on whether electors in the Electoral College voting should get a security briefing before voting (so clearly this wouldn’t happen) or how the cyberattacks should influence their thinking. The administration would continue its full cooperation with the president elect’s transition team.
For her part, Hillary Clinton has incorporated Russian hacking into her narrative about the election outcome. Clinton blames Comey and Putin for her loss, Kyle Feldscher, Washington Examiner, 12/16/16.
•The Times reported Clinton told rich donors in Manhattan on Thursday the letter from the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (re a temporary reopening of the investigation of her e-mails) and the hacks reportedly done by the Russians into the Democratic National Committee and campaign chairman John Podesta convinced undecided voters to go for President-elect Trump.
• Clinton told her donors the press didn't help her enough during the campaign in order to make the case that Russia was trying to interfere in the election. The reports of Russian involvement in the hacks were widespread. "Make no mistake, as the press is finally catching up to the facts, which we desperately tried to present to them during the last months of the campaign."
What a change from Clinton’s feigned outrage at Trump’s “horrifying" refusal to say, during the final presidential debate, that he would necessarily accept the results of the election. Now Clinton and many members of her party are doing exactly what they claimed Trump might do, namely looking for any excuse they can find to challenge the outcome. The peaceful transition of power? Derek Hunter, Townhall.com, 12/18/18.
Let them throw their tantrum. This attempted bloodless coup will fail, and power will be transferred. But never forget. The next four years undoubtedly will be a constant reminder. Wear your seatbelt.
III. Path forward – Meanwhile, the Trump team has been moving forward in a reasonably constructive fashion. A series of “thank you” rallies in battleground states has been upbeat and seemingly aimed at building a spirit of inclusiveness that was not always achieved during the campaign. Cabinet, etc. appointments are being announced on schedule, and generally seem consistent with the president elect’s campaign promises. There will be some controversy about Trump’s business interests, and his pledge to cede management responsibility to his two adult sons will be predictably attacked as insufficient after the press conference on this subject in January (postponed from December 15).
The president elect doesn’t necessarily share SAFE’s vision of smaller, more focused, less costly government, but we applaud his instincts for cutting regulations and tax rates. In combination with sensible fiscal policies, such changes – scornfully referred to by big government fans as “trickledown economics” - could go a long way towards rejuvenating the US economy.
There will be ample opportunity to discuss the specifics next year, but we would like to point out a comment by noted economist Kenneth Rogoff. Harvard’s Rogoff: Trump will spark “significantly faster” growth than Obama, newsmax.com, 12/15/16.
Those who are deeply wedded to the idea of 'secular stagnation' would say high growth under Trump is well-nigh impossible. But if one believes, as I do, that the slow growth of the last eight years was mainly due to the overhang of debt and fear from the 2008 crisis, then it is not so hard to believe that normalization could be much closer than we realize. After all, so far virtually every financial crisis has eventually come to an end.
Rogoff adds caveats about the need for competent, surefooted implementation of the Trump game plan, but his overall thrust seems auspicious. Heretofore, most preeminent academic economists have opposed Trump, and 370 of them signed a letter panning his economic approach that was published about a week before the election. Prominent economists, including eight Nobel laureates: “Do not vote for Donald Trump,” Nick Timiraos, Wall Street Journal, 11/1/16.
In attempting to check whether Rogoff signed this letter (he did not), we discovered that the link in the Wall Street Journal article – which worked fine several weeks ago - now leads to computer code gibberish versus a readable document. Perhaps this is a sign that the Trump team is headed in the right direction and the top economic gurus realize it. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
On that note, dear readers, this blog will close for the year. Our next entry will be on January 9th. In the meantime, happy holidays to all!