The Left Needs Operation Trump-Russia

Without hard evidence to support it, the accusation that Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with nefarious Kremlinites to win the 2016 election is gaining momentum at an unnervingly fast pace.  This fact-free story has now led to the Deputy Attorney General’s appointment of a Special Counselor to investigate it.

What use is such special counsel when the theory of an electoral love connection between Messrs. Trump and Putin has been repeatedly debunked? For an operation of this nature to successfully throw the election to Trump, he and Vlad would have specifically needed to target the swing states (Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida) and the “blue wall” of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania -- those three being exceptionally difficult to alter, all having gone Democratic for President since 1992. Then, the colluders would have needed to influence the ballot toward Trump in potentially thousands of voting districts in multiple states in order to shift sufficient numbers away from Hillary. Hacking and publishing John Podesta’s electronic correspondence in order to demonstrate the Democratic Party’s low opinion of minorities, Catholics, and Bernie Sanders seems hardly a great way of motivating unemployed Rust Belt workers or transplanted, Northeastern retirees in Boca Raton to rush out to the polls to vote solidly GOP.

This is not to exonerate the Russians from the allegation that they may have engaged in cyberattacking American targets during the 2016 campaign. Nevertheless, even Newsweek had to admit that

To put it in simpler terms, no one stuffed any ballot boxes here, but someone did do the equivalent of breaking into campaign offices and rifling through their confidential files and paperwork, stealing information and files that could be portrayed as damaging, and then selectively leaking that information… This did not falsify the election results.

To understand how this tall tale has risen to a dangerously overblown level, one must first review its origins. The Trump-Russia conspiracy emerged accidentally with the Donald himself, whose blue-collar humor sounds to Anglophone leftists as if he were speaking Greek. Riffing sarcastically on 7/26/16 regarding Mrs. Clinton’s lost government-related emails, Mr. Trump told the press gaggle:

Russia, if you are listening… I hope you are able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.

Reasonable persons laughed at his witticism. Throughout the campaign, the left had proved itself to be woefully incurious about Mrs. Clinton’s clandestine server and her cat-and-mouse answers to inquiries regarding her on-the-job email habits. Thus Mr. Trump’s barb hit both his rival and the broadsides of the left’s megaphone (i.e. the mainstream media). It also reassured millions of deplorable Americans who disliked Mrs. Clinton’s questionable conduct that they had a political champion against her duplicity.

Given his comedic sensibility and the media’s blockheaded inability to interpret his banter, Mr. Trump clarified the next day that his comments were made in sarcasm. He likely forgot his joke shortly thereafter as he moved on to the next phase of his campaign. Leftists, conversely, clutched their pearls, interpreting Trump’s statement as a signal to his KGB buddy to launch a psy-ops attack against the Clinton campaign.

The MSM’s vapors over this issue subsided somewhat as Trump struggled through the summer and fall of 2016. The press had at their disposal plenty of alternative anti-Trump fodder including, but not limited to, the Khan family kerfuffle, his meandering performance in the first presidential debate, and the Access Hollywood tape; this all pointed to an impending Hillary victory. But shortly after Trump won the Electoral College, the epic gasp of the left gave way to a crusade against the vulgarian who had bested their queen. To bolster the resistance movement, Operation Trump-Russia had to be revived, irrespective of the facts.

The lack of credible evidence of a Trumpian conspiracy does nothing to diminish the left’s hysterics. That Trump joked about Russia and suggested that he would like to have a cordial relationship with Putin is enough for the left to believe in the collusion theory. They will not be convinced otherwise because of their continuing unwillingness to process the outcome of the presidential election in an emotionally healthy way.

Their swift rejection of fact and rapid adoption of fiction has precedent in the aftermath of the JFK assassination. Despite Jack Ruby’s deadly interference and the Warren Commission’s rush job, the genuinely vetted evidence pointed to Oswald as the lone gunman. But the facts alone provided no solace to countless grieving Americans struggling with the awful truth that the handsome and popular JFK was felled by Lee Harvey Oswald, a poorly educated, traitorous, wife-beating defector. In a 1992 interview with the New York Times, the historian William Manchester described it this way:

Those who desperately want to believe that President Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy have my sympathy. I share their yearning. To employ what may seem an odd metaphor, there is an esthetic principle here. If you put six million dead Jews on one side of a scale and on the other side put the Nazi regime -- the greatest gang of criminals ever to seize control of a modern state -- you have a rough balance: greatest crime, greatest criminals. But if you put the murdered President of the United States on one side of a scale and that wretched waif Oswald on the other side, it doesn't balance. You want to add something weightier to Oswald. It would invest the President's death with meaning, endowing him with martyrdom. He would have died for something. A conspiracy would, of course, do the job nicely. Unfortunately, there is no evidence whatever that there was one.

A pathetic “waif” killing a virile Commander-in-Chief made for such an imbalanced historical equation that the conspiracy cult provided many mourners with a more evenly distributed (albeit fantastical) and therefore more palatable explanation for their loss.

Diehard leftists treat politics as religion, so Hillary’s 2016 election loss caused them an existential crisis reminiscent of the fright and outrage after JFK’s murder. On one side, Hillary Clinton: Former First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State, flush with campaign cash, supported by Barack Obama, America’s soon-to-be first female POTUS. On the other side, an orange-skinned, thrice-married, trash-talking playboy best known for his reality television career, with not a minute of elective experience. There was no balance in this contest; Hillary should have won in a colossal landslide. When that didn’t happen, the bottom dropped out for the left. The only way they could cope with this catastrophe was to do what many did after Dallas in November 1963: Discard empiricism in favor of wild theory. For some, a conspiracy by John Birchers, Cubans, or Mafiosi to kill Kennedy imbued his death with more raison d’être than the impulsive target practice of a paranoid shipping clerk with a mail-order rifle. Similarly, if a shirtless Soviet ghoul and an oddly coiffed Montgomery Burns conspired to create 100,000 Republican votes in Janesville, Pittsburgh, and Flint, only then can the left emotionally process Hillary’s defeat. Thus, the left needs Operation Trump-Russia; without it, progressives must contend with the undigestible reality that they are responsible for their 2016 election failure given their nomination of a condescending, corrupt harridan who could not appeal to an electorate tired of preening, establishmentarian grandees.

John Steinreich has an M.A. in Church History from Colorado Theological Seminary. He has authored two Christian-themed books available on Kindle: The Words of God?-- the Bible, the Qur’an and How They Are Lived in the Post-9/11 World and A Great Cloud of Witnesses -- Lessons for Modern Day Christians from Church History. His works are also on Lulu Press