The Russia Thing

Photo by Mike Maguire | CC BY 2.0

In a recent interview, journalist Luke Harding failed to substantiate the central thesis – indeed, the title – of his bestselling book, Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win. That Putin “helped Trump win” is prima facie plausible, but what is the empirical evidence? Aaron Maté subjected Harding’s lurid argument – that the Kremlin began cultivating Trump decades ago in order to “hack” an election – to incisive scrutiny. The result, as Harding’s reddening cheeks revealed, was embarrassing.

It would be unfair to single Harding out for asserting without much evidence that Russia catapulted a Putin stooge into the White House. Maté is, in fact, an outlier for maintaining a healthy skepticism about this story (a “collusion rejectionist,” in Harding’s phrase). Indeed, the specter of collusion has been so consuming a journalistic obsession it has distracted from the GOP’s assaults on the environment, the working poor, and global peace.

The Democratic Party too has become captivated by the fantasy that collusion will someday be not only proven but somehow sufficient to oust the President from the Oval Office. It is not obvious how this Russian cloud – increasingly black, but persistently insubstantial – might produce enough rain to wash the Trump era away, nor whether President Pence is a ray of sunshine worth hoping for. Journalists, Democrats, and concerned…

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