Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Putin Report

So the intelligence agencies are sticking to their guns:
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia directed a vast cyberattack aimed at denying Hillary Clinton the presidency and installing Donald J. Trump in the Oval Office, the nation’s top intelligence agencies said in an extraordinary report they delivered on Friday to Mr. Trump. . . .

The report — a virtually unheard-of, real-time revelation by the American intelligence agencies that undermined the legitimacy of the president who is about to direct them — made the case that Mr. Trump was the favored candidate of Mr. Putin.
Two things. First, as I have been saying, there are parts of the government that the president will find it very hard to control. There are entrenched players in intelligence who may sometimes be forced to go along with the administration line in public, but are secretly filing away the evidence that shows they dissented or are passing it to friends in Congress or the media. Even if Trump can get the political generals and the CIA director on his side, he will still have to deal with grouchy colonels and the like for whom hating all presidents is a key part of their identity.

Second, I think we are going to be seeing the words "virtually unheard-of" a whole lot over the next four years.


Unknown said...

Some responses. First, a lot of these guys, particularly in the area of defense-foreign-intelligence, really respect the chain of command and legal authority--and Obama is still the president. This whole thing would have gone differently if Trump were formally president. A Pres. Trump might have tried to quash the findings--and when they came out anyway, he might react with righteous indignation and a sense of conspiracy victimhood rather than an abashed "I stand corrected"--and ugliness and national division would ensue.

Second, while there will always be grouchy underlings, what can put a policy through despite that is the presence of other underlings who like it--and I'm sure there's virtually no constituency among the professionals for sweeping Russian interference under the rug in favor of a national bromance with Putin (contrast torture, which had and has a real constituency).

Third, leaks by grouchy underlings can make a policy difficult and controversial, but they can't necessarily prevent it (see torture again; also invading Iraq with a tiny force with no plans for after; and I'm sure plenty of liberal Obama policies would fit this bill).

On the other hand, there are some heartening signs: first, that Trump lacks Cheney's cold determination and bureaucratic skill, and second, that much of the bureaucracy isn't that frightened by Trump (again, the way they were frightened by Cheney). In fact, so far the only government people who seem frightened by Trump are Congressional Republicans--not necessarily a bad thing.

On the third hand, a weak, vacillating, and delegitimized Pres. Trump is likely to be pretty bad for the country (and is probably what Putin was really aiming at all along).

G. Verloren said...

Here's a crazy idea - since we now know it was illegitimate, why not just invalidate the election?

1) Declare that all candidates who ran are unfit to serve the office of president this election cycle.

2) Have congress appoint an interim president following the established presidential line of succession (either keep Obama, or if that's deemed unacceptable then replace him with Vice President Biden, or if both of them aren't viable/tolerable options the next in line is Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and so on down the line).

3) Schedule a new election to be held in something like 12 or 18 months, to be overseen by a congressionally appointed security committee working in conjunction with our intelligence services and the military to ensure a legitimate election free from interference.

4) The major parties choose entirely new candidates for the new election, and whoever wins take office in 2018 or so and only serves out the remainder of the 2016 - 2020 election cycle, whereupon we return to the normal schedule.

5) We forget this dumpster fire of an election ever happened, except as a bizarre footnote in history books.

What do you think? Too sane? Too sensible? Solves too many problems too simply and neatly? Yeah, probably. The public will never get behind the idea.

After all, in the minds of millions Trump "won fair and square" somehow, despite direct tampering in the election by a rival foreign power. He could probably have had his opponents assassinated and they'd still claim the election was legitimate.