Futile reaction to Russian hacking
WASHINGTON — The public furor over U.S. intelligence reports that Russian hackers sought to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election has kicked off various efforts to reverse or cast doubts about the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s claim on the Oval Office.
They start with the demand by the losers that the Electoral College tally that gives him a clear majority should be set aside, and the popular vote he lost by 2.5 million ballots to Hillary Clinton should somehow prevail.
Then there is the argument that electors chosen in the various states are not obliged by the Constitution to follow the wishes of their states’ voters, and they should cast their ballots in the exercise of their consciences as their political inclinations dictate.
Petitions have been signed by hundreds of thousands of disappointed and distressed citizens to push for one or both of these actions, with very little possibility that either one will get anywhere. It’s locking the barn door after the horse has been stolen, as many of the downhearted would regretfully have to acknowledge.
Trump himself railed endlessly before votes were counted, electoral or popular, that the whole system was “rigged” against him. Perhaps he feared then that the champions of the popular vote might win out. He contended as well that foul play denied many Trump voters their right to vote, while claiming falsely he had won the popular tally anyway.
For good measure, Trump said he didn’t believe that the Russians had hacked into the American political system. He brushed off the conclusions of the top U.S. intelligence and cyberspace experts that they had “high confidence” it was so, bolstered by the evidence they had examined.
President Obama has ordered his own post-election investigation into the allegations, to be concluded and made public before he leaves office on Jan. 20, though there seems no any realistic possibility that the election outcome can be reversed.
Meanwhile, the president-elect is moving rapidly to install his own cabinet and top White House advisers, giving clear signals that he fully intends to reverse many of the policy achievements of the man he will replace shortly after noon on Inauguration Day.
It’s obvious already that many of the advocates of reversing the electoral vote total and ditching the Electoral College itself are freaked out by some of Trump’s cabinet announcements, particularly those positioned to undo much of the Obama legacy.
Topping the list is the surprise selection of Exxon-Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be secretary of state. Tillerson is said to have be particularly cozy with Vladimir Putin, an old partner in lucrative Russian oil dealings. Trump has already exchanged tidings of deep respect with the former Soviet KBG strongman now running the Kremlin.
Simliarly, Trump’s choices to head the Treasury, Labor, Education, Energy Departments and the Environmental Protection Agency have clear-cut records of opposition to Obama’s policies in their intended areas of responsibility.
His enlistment of Wall Street bank and investment barons at Treasury, a critic of organized labor and a higher federal minimum wage at Labor, a champion of school vouchers at Education and aggressive climate-change deniers to run Energy and the EPA are harbingers of the Trump scythe aimed at prime accomplishments of his Oval Office predecessor.
And of course there is his concerted campaign commitment to “repeal and replace Obamacare,” with the Republican Congress led by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pressing on with their crusade, which had been rejected in more than 60 votes during the departing White House regime.
In light of all this, it’s not surprising that the losing Democrats and other disappointed Never-Trumpers have resorted to efforts to challenge and reverse the Electoral College results. But there’s no doubt Trump will be confirmed when the votes are officially tabulated before Congress on Monday afternoon.
There’s no doubt either that the Democrats, especially in Congress, will dig in to preserve what they can of the Obama legacy. And at the same time, they are faced with rebuilding their shattered party from the shock of the Trump upset.