December 13, 2016

This skirmish between Hugh Hewitt and Joan Walsh is a good indicator of how Republicans are going to overreach and try to ignore illegal activity that likely put their guy into the White House.

The conservative talking point appears to be that anyone who thinks the Russian intervention is a big deal is nothing more than an election denier (or truther, if you will), who wants to delegitimize Donald Trump's presidency.

As usual, the "election denier" accusation is projection, given that Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by a stunning margin, electoral college or not. The only election deniers are Republicans, who continue to prioritize a handful of votes in the Rust Belt as somehow more meaningful than the millions of votes Trump didn't receive elsewhere.

Trump has no mandate today, tomorrow and forever, amen. The magnitude of Hugh Hewitt's hubris knows no limits. Remember, this guy was a "never Trump" guy until he wasn't. At the point where he realized his dreams of drowning the federal government might actually come to pass, he suddenly shifted course.

During a discussion about the Russian intervention into our elections, Hewitt dismissed it out of hand, prompting a strong rebuttal from Joan Walsh.

"Donald Trump did not merely say I don't believe that the Russians intervened on my side. He said he doesn't believe it plain and simple," she reminded. "It could be Russia, Hugh, it could be China, it could be somebody in their bed. I don't know where he gets these images from they're kind of creepy. But he absolutely denied what his friends in the Republican party and what you yourself, Hugh, have been saying. He refuses to accept the reality that this is the consensus of the intelligence agencies."

Hubris-filled Hugh just dismissed all of that as being "silly," which rightly shocked Walsh. He then played the election-denier card.

"What we face here, Steve, and Joan knows this too, is an attempt to delegitimize a Trump election by saying it's Director Comey's fault," Hewitt blathered. "Secretary Clinton came out and said 'fake news' last week. This week they're blaming the Russians when we all should be recognizing, and not being an election-denier, it sounds like Joan is going in the election-denier camp."

Just for the record, there's a couple of lies there, which is why you see Walsh look so thunderstruck. First, it is demonstrably true that Comey tilted the election, first by failing to address the Russian intervention seriously out of fear that it would appear political, and second, by sending a letter to Congress 10 days ahead of the election suggesting there might be classified email on Anthony Weiner's laptop.

As Walsh quickly reminded Hewitt, Clinton has won nearly 3 million more votes than Trump. And that matters. It should matter to Hewitt, it should matter to Steve Kornacki, and it should matter to us.

It is a terrible mistake to ignore the almost-3 million people who cast votes for Clinton over Trump. A terrible one. Hewitt and Trump are assuming a mandate he does not have, which was Walsh's point.

Hewitt wrapped up his rant by puffing up like a blowfish and bragging about how Trump will get all of his cabinet members, his Supreme Court picks, and his dinner served on a gilt platter if he so pleases because Harry Reid exercised the nuclear option in 2013.

I have news for Hewitt. Supreme Court nominees weren't part of that "nuclear option," so he's either dreaming or else he's signaling that McConnell plans to do away with the filibuster entirely. That would be a terrible error on McConnell's part, but it would certainly end the logjam on Supreme Court nominees forever and ever, even when Democrats are in power.

Either way, with each day that passes, it's clearer and clearer that Trump has betrayed his voters, and that the number of those voters is about 3 million less than the number of Americans who cast votes for Hillary Clinton. That's Hewitt's problem. And Trump's. They'd better figure out how to deal with it.

Denial isn't the answer.

Update: Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson rebukes Trump and Hewitt's nonsense in today's Washington Post:

First, the debate over whether Russia engaged in cyberespionage to help Trump or just to generally mess with American democracy is utter nonsense. Russian espionage resulted in the phased leak of material damaging to the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton at key moments during the presidential campaign. Anyone who finds Russia’s motivation mysterious is being intentionally obtuse.

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