A new CNN poll finds that around two-thirds of Americans want a special prosecutor to investigate contacts between Russians and the Donald Trump campaign, and 55 percent are “somewhat concerned” by reports that the president’s associates had contact with “suspected Russian operatives.”
Well, if you put it that way, what kind of seditious scoundrel wouldn’t be troubled by the president’s comrades huddling with “suspected Russian operatives”? What if CNN asked voters this, though: Are you concerned that an attorney general nominee met with the Russian ambassador in course of his duties as a U.S. senator and member of the Armed Services Committee? I suspect the numbers would look a bit different.
As it goes, I’m perfectly willing to believe the absolute worst about politicians, including this president. But voters are confusing the passionate certitude of liberals — and thus the passionate certitude of most of the mainstream media — with the facts. As of yet, the accusation made by Democrats that Trump has colluded with Russians to rig the election aren’t predicated on a single piece of hard evidence. Perhaps there is something nefarious going on, but a cloying attitude towards Vladimir Putin (which is a political and foreign policy concern) shouldn’t convince you that a congressional investigation is needed.
With the level of leaking we’ve seen from people in the intelligence community, supposedly on a mission to save democracy from 2016 voters, shouldn’t we have already seen some proof of a conspiracy? Shouldn’t journalists, who have been working from the assumption that collusion is a fact, have gotten hands on hard evidence? If we ever see this evidence, we can admit that the intelligence community has done its patriotic duty. Until then, they look like political hacks destabilizing democratic institutions by feeding the partisan circus. Because as far as we know, Gen. Michael Flynn is a liar with poor judgment, not a felon.
“So let’s have an investigation to find out!?” We hear this quite often. What does this mean in practice?
In 2006, 51 percent of Democrats believed President Bush knew of or abetted the 9/11 attacks. Why were there no investigations into the matter? Probably because most elected Democrats felt a debt of responsibility to the office, unlike the ones demanding an attorney general resign for telling the truth. Even nine years into the Obama presidency, 41 percent of Republicans, including the future president, didn’t believe the man was born in the United States. I promise you, they had plenty of theories. Why didn’t Republicans in Congress launch investigations into the pressing matter of the fake birth certificates? Because politicians don’t have to give in to every widely held fiction.
Last we heard, 52 percent of Democrats believe Russia “tampered with the vote totals” to get Trump elected president. Which is, of course, completely bananas. With many your former run-of-the-mill partisan flunkies churning out conspiratorial metafiction, we shouldn’t be surprised that voters are concerned. It’s because of partisans, most of whom are decent, intelligent, capable people in their everyday lives, seem to lose hold of their senses when it comes to politics. And Democrats are enabling them.
Take Chris Coons, senator from Delaware, who suggested last week that the FBI had “transcripts” proving that President Trump’s campaign and Russian officials colluded to try to rig the election. (How the Russians can “rig” an election, even if the collusion claims were true, is a mystery to me, but that’s for another column.) Well, this weekend, Coons told Fox News host Chris Wallace: “I have no hard evidence of collusion. To the extent those comments that you just replayed might in some way be misinterpreted as leading to a hyperventilating attitude here in the Senate about this, I apologize for that.”
Whoops. Coons, and those who refer to the average duplicitous, hack-happy Russian diplomats who meet with senators (and have been forever) as “suspected Russian operatives,” are the ones feeding the hyperventilating attitude as a the way to undermine the legitimacy of the president. It’s turned politics from its usual corrupt and vapid self into something even more ridiculous.
So, naturally, Donald Trump has gotten into the act. This weekend, through a series of tweets, Trump called on lawmakers to investigate the claim that Obama tapped his phones during the campaign. Why not?
Though I doubt CNN will ask voters if they are “somewhat concerned” by reports that a presidential candidate’s headquarters were tapped by Hillary operative Barack Obama? Instead, they call the claims “baseless.” Obama defenders also ran to highlight former director of national intelligence James Clapper’s contention that there was no tapping of Trump. But Clapper also said this:
We did not include any evidence in our report, and I say, ‘our,’ that’s N.S.A., F.B.I. and C.I.A., with my office, the Director of National Intelligence, that had anything, that had any reflection of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians. There was no evidence of that included in our report.
We know Clapper lied to the American people before, so feel free to believe whatever you like about his contentions. Moreover, Clapper’s denial doesn’t mean that Trump aides were not swept up in some routine surveillance of Russian diplomats. And Trump is probably making no distinction between “Obama” and the U.S. government when he accuses the former of spying on him. Whatever the case, Trump has a responsibility to offer concrete proof before making these serious allegations. As do Democrats. Everyone show us your work so we can move on.
Of course, Trump brings a lot of this on himself, with the crude, un-presidential way he conducts himself. No one should be surprised if there is a genuine scandal in his future. That doesn’t mean we have to sign on to every politically convenient obsession of the Left.