The visible effects of a thorough election drubbing multiply by the day. Like the famous stages of grief, there are apparently stages of processing Hillary Clinton’s loss.
Having passed through the street-protest phase, the popular-vote distraction phase, the futile recount phase and the Electoral College defector hunt phase, we now find ourselves immersed in what one hopes is the last sideshow before clarity kicks in: the Russian hacking obsession phase.
It is quite the spectacle to watch the left develop a sudden concern over two things that have not historically ruffled its feathers: 1) Russia, and 2) election security.
From President Barack Obama on down, the choruses of liberalism have routinely mocked and derided concerns about Russia on the world stage and the susceptibility of our voting to various types of mischief.
When Mitt Romney voiced consternation about Russia in a 2012 presidential debate, Obama delivered a planned zinger suggesting this was obsolete “1980s foreign policy.” When questions arose this year about the reliability of modern election results, those concerns were ridiculed as if the republic itself had been besmirched.
So look who’s all caught up in Russia and election security now. A litany of despondent Hillary supporters now argue that Donald Trump and his secretary of state pick Rex Tillerson are stooges of the Kremlin, having been lofted to power by an election result swayed by a devious Vladimir Putin interference.
They have paraded the story that 17 intelligence agencies have all but discovered memos that Putin had a Trump/Pence sign in his yard. But pesky facts have intervened. There are multiple online breaches worthy of scrutiny, targeting the Democratic National Committee, Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, and even various state election boards. But there is little to support the conclusion that this was Russia seeking to boost Trump.
The CIA report making that suggestion is now countered by the FBI and the office of James Clapper, director of national intelligence, which oversees those 17 agencies. Clapper told Congress nine days after the election that he was not presuming to connect WikiLeaks disclosures and Russian cyberattacks.
Like just about every other leader in the world, Putin probably expected Clinton to win. It would be thoroughly within his character profile to exult in having winged her with various high-tech affronts to get inside her head as her administration began. Putting him on the Trump campaign staff is a feeble attempt to delegitimize the election result.
Liberals are not the only side adjusting opinions based on election passions. Many conservatives with the proper distaste for the illegal pilferages of Julian Assange suddenly found themselves warming to WikiLeaks when the content of its divulgences revealed levels of Clinton corruption and media collusion that American reporters were never going to explore.
So if objectivity is even possible, consider the following bottom lines:
The Russians (and the Chinese and others) are constantly looking for ways to hack into our politics, our military, any secrets they can plunder. We are apparently not skilled at thwarting such malicious incursions, and we need to get better. But the notion that the election result was swung by such an event is a sore-loser fantasy.
America’s elections are among the most reliable in the world, but in a human system beset by the occasional sabotage attempt, improved election security is a wise quest, whether focused on international intrusions or fraudulent voting. No one should oppose improved cyber-defenses or sensible safeguards like voter ID.
And as for WikiLeaks, it is not morally sensible to condone thievery that advances a political goal. No doubt, the voting public knew facts about the Hillary campaign it would have never learned from her media protectors, but that doesn’t make Assange a hero.
The stages of grief defined by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in 1969 have a final destination that would be of great value to those still struggling with the election: acceptance.
Mark Davis is a radio host and a columnist for The Dallas Morning News.