Right Opinion

Goal-Post Movement

Bill Wagner · Feb. 20, 2018

We’ve all been there. Your organization is facing a controversial issue with strong feelings on both sides, but side A is particularly vocal and adamant. The organization commissions a six-month study of the issue, which concludes that side A is out to lunch. Rather than defer to the study group, side A bad-mouths the study, spins the results, and moves the goal posts. It is so invested in its predetermined outcome that it simply can’t accept reality.

That’s basically what we have with the Democrat reactions to the Russian indictment. Rather than accept the conclusion from both the indictment and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that there was zero collusion between Donald Trump and the Russians, and the Russian actions (regardless of how damaging you might think they were) did not impact the outcome of the election, the Democrats are doing handstands to change the subject away from Trump’s winning fair and square.

The first salvo was to cherry-pick the indictment to highlight the occasional reference to the Russians’ “supporting” Trump. When it became obvious that the real goal was to interfere with our democratic processes in general and denigrate the certain new occupant of the White House (that would be Hillary Clinton), Democrats moved the goal posts. Now we are supposed to believe that because Trump isn’t leading the charge to denounce Vladimir Putin and sanction Russia, somehow he is still in bed with them.

Sadly, all that Democrats have for 2016 is a resistance campaign and a pledge that if you give them control of Congress, they will commit to impeach the guy who was elected by the American people and has engineered 4% economic growth, cut taxes and put more money in everyone’s pockets, eliminated burdensome regulations, destroyed ISIS, strengthened the military, appointed constitutionalist judges, and proposed to rebuild our infrastructure and give DACA folks citizenship. Good luck with that as your platform.

But just to show you how deranged this line of thinking is, take a look at how the goal posts were moved. We are being told that Trump’s “silence” toward Russia in light of the indictment is proof that he is unfit to lead. According to Democrat leaders, it is akin to FDR staying silent in the wake of Pearl Harbor or George W. Bush heading out to play golf after 9/11. Per Tom Freidman, Trump has “something to hide,” most likely nefarious but unspecified financial dealings with Putin cronies.

I wonder if it’s ever occurred to these folks that maybe Trump and his national security team are doing stuff behind the scenes, like threatening to expose Putin’s Swiss bank account information showing he has stolen billions from the Russian people. Or using threats diplomatically to get Putin to help us in the Middle East.

Just because he isn’t leaking everything to The New York Times doesn’t mean things aren’t being done. And maybe the mere fact that the Russian indictments are public is enough to heighten awareness and prevent it from happening again. Countermoves need not find their way onto the front pages of the Times to be effective. But if Trump’s nonresponse is evidence that he is unfit to hold office, what about Barack Obama? He knew this was going on and not only did nothing but went public with how insignificant he thought it was. Don’t want to tarnish the inevitable Hillary landslide, now, do we?

According to new reports, the Russians spent a trivial fraction on social media relative to Team Hillary, which spent around $80 million, and only around $3,000 (not a typo) of that went to the three key swing states that Trump won. The Facebook guys are probably wondering what is so wrong with their platform that the Russians spent only rounding-error dollars on it to further their goals.

They note that the majority of the spending occurred after the election. The vast majority of the overall spending didn’t even mention a candidate’s name. And even though “120 million” Americans were “exposed” to the Russian info, you could measure the time on site for almost all of them by the few seconds it took for them to delete the posts. So much for the Trump collusion memo.

But that didn’t stop the Hillary apologists from one of the most clever goal-post changes in memory. Ready for this? Hillary’s communications director tried to make the case that the “Russians weakened Hillary enough that the Comey letter could knock her off.” Since you can’t prove a negative, I guess she gets to keep her job.

Trump is not without some blame here. The tweets referencing the FBI screwup in Florida because it was too busy with bogus Russian investigations was insensitive and uncalled for, as was the claim that he won because he was a “great candidate.” Trump is not always precise in his language, so it’s not helpful to debate whether his “hoax” comments referred to Russian meddling or collusion. So just let it go.

Now was a better time to take the indictment as yes for an answer and not link it to Florida. Maybe it’s understandable that he is frustrated after being illegally spied on and having to endure a Robert Mueller investigation with no “there there,” but now was not the time to let ego and insecurity about whether he won on his own to dominate.

So where do we go from here? It’s worthwhile to note that the Russian indictment is for “conspiracy to defraud the USA” and some garden-variety identity theft, money laundering, and bank/mail fraud. While it cites election law violations that contributed to the fraud charge, it does not explicitly charge the Russians with campaign law violations like providing campaigns stuff of value from foreign actors who didn’t register as agents.

I guess Mueller could follow up with that, but I think it’s unlikely. After all, it’s not like the Russians gave their law firm millions of dollars to hire a consulting company that specializes in opposition research that then hired a former British spy who paid his Russian contacts to dig up dirt on the competing candidate or anything like that.

As I’ve said before, any tipping of the first Hillary domino will inevitably lead to Obama’s doorstep, and no one wants to go there. This is all more likely the first few steps along the Mueller off-ramp, and that’s OK. Let Democrats hang themselves on a 2016 platform that will go nowhere, and let Mueller finish his job. Change the focus to stopping future interference by any foreign actor in our elections and move on.

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