While we are talking about “fake news,” which is actually an attack on the First Amendment’s assurance of free (even erroneous) speech (and an abdication of reader responsibility), let’s jump the rails. Let’s talk about false, foolish and fruitless media and political “narratives,” obviously aimed at an election reversal.
I can hear it now … “Oh but please, nothing could be further from the truth!” Hmmm. Ok. Election night occurred, and a 120-year tradition was broken. No “night-of concession speech” from Hillary Clinton. Why? The act of giving a prompt concession is reassuring to the nation, a civic responsibility. Notably, it started with John Adams, defeated by Jefferson in 1801. It would wait until 1896 for William Jennings Bryan’s “night-of concession” to President-elect William McKinley to become a permanent fixture.
In time, Al Smith would make his night-of concession a radio broadcast in 1928 (Herbert Hoover won), and Adlai Stevenson would go televised in 1952 (when Dwight Eisenhower won). With the singular exception of 2000, when “hanging chads” created a bona fides question of electoral votes, the tradition has been – and for good reason – unbroken.
Enter 2016, and failed candidate Hillary Clinton does not concede. All night, into the next day. Eventually she does. The concession is tinny, followed by talk of unidentified misdeeds, voter fraud, recounts, fake news, riots and electoral abdications.
Next comes the peculiar advent of an unprecedented national “recount” request from Green Party nominee Jill Stein, focused in several states, for which there was no 2000-like basis for seeking a recount. Stranger still, the initiator is a no-chance independent candidate. She is swiftly, as if by orchestration, joined by the Clinton campaign. Of course, the recount – both on numbers and in court – amounts to nothing, but doubts are sewn.
As if on cue, comes a public appeal for nationally pledged Republican electors to abandon the Electoral College, jump to the failed candidate. In harmony, media outlets and politicians, recently swooning at the Clinton Electoral College map, call for review of the institution. Never mind that the whole rationale of the 538-vote Electoral College is to prevent this gaming.
Next, watering seeded pre-election doubt, comes an allegation that voter machines were tampered with – if not by racists, then Russians. When this is technically disproven, the Russian argument pivots, saying Russia tried to elect Candidate Trump. Curiously, the Russian hacking allegation is announced by Obama before the election, then picked up after. When it appears alleged Russian hacking is broader than Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails, media downplay the fact.
Of no consequence, apparently, are facts: No DNC or Clinton campaign operative denied the truth of released emails, wherever they came from. Turns out DNC operatives deep-sixed candidate Bernie Sanders in an awful breach of fidelity to process. Turns out the current interim DNC chair Donna Brazile shared CNN questions with the Clinton campaign, and media leaders were entangled with that campaign. Media silence again.
The underlying – unstated – principle, in case you missed it, is the “exclusionary rule” of criminal procedure. If a piece of truth is found, but the means by which it comes to light appears to violate the Fourth Amendment (unlawful search and seizure), the truthful evidence can – in some cases – be excluded. Apply that notion to politics, and apparently the election becomes a do-over. Really? Never mind that truth can be persuasive, chains of hacking untraceable, and neither has anything to do with the Trump campaign. Might be a double-reverse, who knows?
Then, or rather now, falling back to fourth down and 90 – the Clinton team, aided by a desperate, unraveling Obama White House, has hatched another idea. Just as the Obama Department of Justice was politicized, laws selectively enforced or left unenforced, authority for “executive actions” blithely assumed (before thrown out by the courts), there have been politicized CIA National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs).
Curiously, now comes the ultimate election reversal attempt – by slap-happy innuendo. The president of the United States, obviously prodded by what is left of the Clinton campaign and copycat media, offers a nugget. Word of some classified intelligence assessment which concludes – who concludes? – that high level Russians always wanted Trump to win, so hacked the universe and threw the election for him.
Never mind how or why the Russians would want a strong American leader to emerge, particularly one sworn to undo the Iran nuclear agreement that they and Obama (and Hillary) want to remain in place. Never mind why the Russians would want a candidate sworn to unleashing American oil on the world market, cratering Russia’s oil-based economy. Never mind any of that - focus instead on the innuendo.
Take the truth of Russian interest in disrupting American and European political processes generally – and stretch that sock over the basketball, entitling the president to undermine the Trump election mandate, maybe ask an election reversal. Innuendo on innuendo, the president calls for a “deep dive” into Trump’s win, under the rubric of Russian hacking. Really?
My friends, and those of you who wish never to be, this is not how democracy works. We do have American detractors, as well as a world full of insidious hackers (commercial and political), and some enemies. But for whatever they do, the American people are ready and smart. The American people are no more puppets of Russia than of the media, Obama White House manipulations, or Clinton obfuscations and post-election dramas.
How about this: We all spin down. Ours is a well-established process, for all its imperfections. The process rendered one candidate a winner, another a loser. Okay, loser is a difficult word for some emotionally; it may hurt feelings. Let us call Hillary’s staggering end, second place. Give her a red ribbon. Okay, for her sake, make it purple or blue – it is just a ribbon. Like it or not – and many in the Obama and media worlds do not – the election is over. Have no worries. In a short four years, another will be upon us. I cannot wait – actually, I can.