You know, these days when I think of Vladimir Putin, I imagine him walking around the Kremlin wearing a t-shirt with a picture of Mel Brooks made up as Louis XIV, and words above and below the head quoting “It’s good to be the king”. He’s had quite a nice run of success, for almost no real effort on his part.
Putin is no moron. He knows that he can’t confront the US militarily. But he’s tired of being isolated and having no other buddies than losers like Iran and Syria, he wants his place in the sun. But once again the US is standing in the way of his desired European and Baltic hegemony. If he can’t destroy us on the battlefield, he has to do it from within.
Trump on the other hand is a moron, but he’s a sneaky little SOB. All the way back in the primaries, he was already screeching like a howler monkey about how the GOP primary system was “rigged” against him, this was his out with his base if he got his head handed to him. Then the debates were rigged against him, and he even bought into the stupid conspiracy theory that there would be a floor revolt, and suddenly the very convention was rigged against him. Being a selfish prick, he was just laying an excuse for failure, but on a real level, he was instilling an idea in at least a part of the population that the process of a fair election couldn’t be trusted. Nobody was even thinking about Russia at that time, but the feeling was there that the powers that be were fully capable of “fixing” an election themselves. Trump himself was undermining the legitimacy of our most sacred process. And in the process, he was most likely unintentionally signalling Putin, “Come on in,the water’s fine”.
His efforts only intensified going into the general election. Being well behind in the polls, and with pretty much everyone forecasting his humiliating defeat, it was no longer just a party that could be rigged, it was the entire national election that could be rigged against him. The absurdity of the claim be damned, now he wasn’t just talking to Republicans, he was denigrating the validity of our election process to the entire country, and by osmosis to the world. Trump was a termite, boring into the load bearing member of our electoral house. He was doing Putin’s work for him in undermining our core principal.
Whether or not the Washington Post got it right, and Putin directed at least some portions of the hacking operation personally, I do not honestly think he believed Trump would win. He had two objectives, first to hamstring Clinton’s Presidency to make her easier to deal with. The second was to destabilize out democracy, to make people lose faith in the electoral process. He has already succeeded in this, how many stories did you read, even quoting congressional members like Maxine Waters, arguing that Trump was an “illegitimate : President, and needed to be removed from office. Republican vs Democrat, all encompassing coverage in the media and nobody paying the slightest bit of attention to Russia. And if Trump had lost, his base would scream all of the Trump blather of the election being rigged. Nirvana for Putin.
Some people say that our greatest strength is in the far flung variety of our election apparatus. It would be impossible they say to “rig” an election, Putin would have to game different machines in over 4900 precincts to impact a national election. Bullshit. Putin has US political experts, he can read an electoral map. He would be well aware of safe states for Trump. Don’t forget, wisdom is that it was a mere 70,000 votes in 3-4 key swing states that turned the electoral college tide to Trump. A well timed “fake news” blitz on social media here, removing just enough Democratic names from voter registration files there, I’m not saying that it was done in 2016, only that it is not only conceivable, it was logically possible.
Don’t fool yourself, this is not changing anytime soon. By the appearance of things, looking at the witnesses already called, and the questions asked, as well as the known lists of witnesses to come, the congressional committees are stuck on looking into Trump-Russia, and not on the mechanics of the underlying hack, much less finding solutions, and Mueller is only looking at criminal activity such as collusion and obstruction of justice. Politics, plain, pure and simple. And even if solutions are found, to implement them requires the buy in of the states, each state is responsible for its own election procedures. And the Republicans have no reason to champion reform, the situation worked to their advantage. I worked in fraud prevention for a major online retailer for almost 9 years. We knew where the fraud was coming from, Ghana, Nigeria, Vietnam, Russia. We stopped almost 99% of it, an industry leader, but what got through still cost us millions. Every hack doesn’t need to be successful, just enough do.
I will close with this personal observation and prediction. Putin is not a reactionary personality like Trump, he takes a long, strategic view, but like Trump he is results driven. Right now his glass is only half full. He did not get his ultimate goal of having sanctions lifted, and a US rubber stamp on whatever he does, but he did sow rancor and distrust in the legitimacy of our election system. If the Democrats manage to get their shit together and flip the House in 2018, watch for Republicans to finally start screaming about Russian election interference themselves, whether it happened or not, it’s a convenient excuse. And if you suddenly start seeing personal scandals and bullshit wild ass allegations saturating social media platforms around vulnerable Republicans like Daryl Issa and Dean Heller, be afraid, be very afraid. He’s baaaaaaaaaack.