Saturday, January 07, 2017

Russia? Not Important To This Crowd

At first glance, there are few similarities between the grumpy, gloomy, unabashedly dishonest Donald Trump and the slick and smiling, devious and calculating Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway. First glances, however, can be misleading.

Once the intelligence community laid bare to President Obama, President-elect Trump, and the American people its conclusion that Russian President Vladimir Putin directed a campaign to disrupt the American elections, defeat Hillary Clinton and elect Mr. Trump, the latter released a statement which included

While Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat National Committee, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines. There were attempts to hack the Republican National Committee, but the RNC had strong hacking defenses and the hackers were unsuccessful.

There is nothing wrong with that statement, other than: the issue at hand had nothing to do with "China, other countries, outside groups and people;" it is unclear whether attempts to hack RNC servers were unsuccessful; the impact on the outcome of the election is uncertain..

Otherwise, Trump's remarks were dead-on.

The thrust of Grump's comments was intended to distract and divert.   CNN "New Day" co-host Chris Cuomo recognized this- and that the tactic was nearly identical to that of Friday guest Kellyanne Conway.   In his roughly 17-minute interview, Cuomo tried repeatedly to induce Conway to admit that Russia was behind the hacking of e-mails prior to the election. Particularly telling- and characteristic- was this exchange, which began at approximately 6:40 of the video below:

Cuomo: Has he ever accepted that Russia was behind the hacks? You're ducking the obvious. And I don't know why.

Conway: I'm not ducking the obvious.  Hey, Chris- by the way, I 'm not ducking the obvious; not my style.  It's not my style. Here's the deal. The President-elect and all of us who work for him, and the Vice President-elect, I assure you- are against any foreign interference in the United States of America- including cyber-security,which obviously has not been a big priority for the last eight years; maybe that will change.... You want us to commit to a proposition because somehow to make everybody feel better about that. Complete the sentence because-

Cuomo: That Russia was behind the hack. You didn't even say the word 'Russia' in the last minute and a half. You said we're against any foreign opposition (sic) but you didn't say Russia. You talk about the DNC; you don't talk about Russia. Why?

Mrs. Conway stated "Let's talk about Russia," whereupon she resumed to an earlier topic, President Obama's alleged inaction toward Russia the past eight years. 

The slickster doesn't care for Hillary Clinton. She has sheer contempt for the President- but that's not why she goes back to condemning him.  She's following the Trump playbook. Or possibly Trump is following her playbook; it may not matter anymore.    Neither of them will say "Russia hacked..."

They will instead claim that China, other countries, other actors, or even that famous 400-pound guy sitting on his bed may be the villains.  It's a statement that will not be rebutted because a) doing so would only divert attention from the issue, Russian interference in the election; b) it's a very complicated topic which would only confuse viewers, listeners, or readers; and c) no one wants to defend China or a 400- pound man.

"(We're) against any foreign interference" is low-hanging fruit in a manner similar to being forced to issue an apology and saying "I apologize if anything I said might have offended someone."

It's also a classic, and relatively effective, way of avoiding the major issue. There may, however, be an additional reason the Trumpists have no interest in decrying interference from Moscow, one even more disturbing than any so far suggested. At one point, the patronizing Kellyanne Conway told the CNN host (at 3:53)  "I see you're very passionate about this."   Cuomo replied "Russia trying to hack during our election being ignored by the President-elect? That's troubling." To which Conway responded "no, it's not."

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