News that the Russians, which means Vladimir Putin, wanted Donald Trump to win the election shouldn’t surprise anyone. They’ve clearly sized him up and see him as the friend that he will turn out to be. They also are taking him seriously when he says that he will support torture and doesn’t care much for getting the United States involved in other country’s affairs. That Trump will help the Russians in Syria is merely icing on the babka. Trump hasn’t a clue as to how to conduct foreign policy and Putin knows that.
But I’m not willing to follow others who say that the Russian effort turned the election. After all, if the point was to get more people to vote for Trump, then the Russians failed miserably, as Hillary Clinton’s 2.7 million vote majority will attest. And it would be a real stretch to conclude that the Russian hackers focused on blue-collar, high-school-educated, former Obama voters in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania because that’s where Trump won the election. Were those voters especially susceptible to fake news? Perhaps some of them went into the last week of the election and weighed the candidate’s positions on jobs and, with the Comey letter, concluded that Hillary was not the person to solve the problem. Let’s not forget that Clinton ran a bad campaign, taking Michigan for granted in the final weeks when the lesson of Bernie Sanders’ shocking performance (or maybe not really shocking) in the primaries should have alerted her team to the potential for an upset.
The real problem with the hacking is that Donald Trump encouraged it as a candidate, and then dismissed it and the professionals who will be advising him once it threatened his fragile hold on his self-esteem. We are now going to be led for the next four years by a classic bully, one who is unsure of himself so he couches his responses in anger, dismissal, disparagement and unthinking emotional outbursts rather than reason and analysis. He’s already shown that when he’s attacked, he goes into survival mode and lives on twitter. As someone who lived through Chris Christie for eight years, I can tell you that this isn’t going to end well.
This strategy has worked to a limited degree when Trump goes after companies that make plans to build plants in Mexico, but it failed miserably with the hacking issue, and it probably won’t serve him as well as he thinks once he takes office (shudder). Eventually, Trump is going to realize that Americans want their president to act a certain way, and tweeting your fears every morning won’t substitute for policy.