Politics & Policy

Democrats’ Selective Outrage

Clinton speaks at a campaign-finance event in Washington, October 5, 2016. (Reuters photo: Brian Snyder)
Hillary and her supporters only complain about Russian cyber-warfare when it threatens their political prospects.

“There is a confidence from these [FBI] sources that her server had been hacked. And that it was a 99% accuracy that it had been hacked by at least five foreign intelligence agencies, and that things had been taken from that.” — Brett Baier reporting on Fox News, November 2, 2016

The above statement should concern every American, but it doesn’t. The likely possibility of foreign spies hacking Hillary Clinton’s server — long suspected, now apparently confirmed — outrages most Republicans and a certain portion of independents, but very few Democrats.

Why isn’t the average Democratic member of Congress bothered, much less outraged, by the possibility that Clinton used an insecure server, allowing her e-mails and the classified information in them to be hacked by at least five foreign intelligence agencies? Why isn’t President Obama bothered by it?

At the same time most Democrats are finding ways to excuse or hand-wave away Clinton’s actions, they are genuinely outraged by another act of hacking: Someone — presumably hackers directed by or affiliated with the Russian government — found thousands of e-mails from the Democratic National Committee and from John Podesta, chairman of Clinton’s campaign. As Clinton herself put it in the final debate:

We’ve never had a foreign government trying to interfere in our election. We have 17 — 17 — intelligence agencies, civilian and military who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyber attacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin and they are designed to influence our election. I find that deeply disturbing.

It is indeed disturbing — but if the Kremlin’s hacking the e-mails of private individuals and private institutions to influence an election is disturbing, then the hacking of Hillary’s private server should be doubly so. But not only do no Democrats express any anger over the latter likelihood, they bend over backwards to insist it is no big deal.

Clinton’s next-to-last last sentence  — “they are designed to influence our election” — gives away her true concern. She’s never otherwise been outraged about insufficient cyber-security. She never said much about the two major breaches of U.S. Office of Personnel Management databases that exposed sensitive information about at least 22.1 million people. In her campaign book, Stronger Together, cyber-security gets five paragraphs, in which Russia is mentioned just once.

Hillary Clinton and other Democrats don’t get that upset when Russia or other hostile states do things that threaten the country as a whole. But when they threaten the party or her odds of winning the election, it’s an outrage.

Four years ago, almost every prominent Democrat adamantly insisted that Mitt Romney was a fool to think of Russia as a foe and anything resembling a threat to American interests. In the 2012 debate, President Obama scoffed at Romney’s declaration that Russia was America’s “number one geopolitical foe.” The president, in a line that surely sounded slick to Democrats at the time, declared, “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because . . . the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”

John Kerry joked that “Mitt Romney talks like he’s only seen Russia by watching ‘Rocky IV,’” and Joe Biden snorted that Romney was “one of a small group of Cold War holdovers.” Clinton herself declared that Russia had largely been an ally to the United States on the global stage: “If you take a look at the world today, we have a lot of problems that are not leftovers from the past, but are of the moment,” she said. “In many of the areas where we are working to solve problems, Russia has been an ally.”

Vladimir Putin and the Russian state haven’t changed their character in the past four years. They’re the same group of ruthlessly amoral thugs they always were, eager to push the envelope and test the resolve of NATO. It’s just that now they’re threatening the Democratic party instead of the country as a whole, and that stirs anger on the left like nothing else.

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