How can one tell if the Russia scandal’s seriousness has intensified? When allies of Donald Trump find out they must move the goal posts once more.
For example, last week, Andrew McCarthy from National Review insisted on Fox News that nothing is necessarily wrong with the possibility of Trump’s political operation has asked a foreign adversary for help in winning a presidential election.
“Look, I don’t think that it’s bad if campaigns are turning to foreign governments for dirt. It’s not collusion, it’s not something that’s impeachable, it’s icky. But that’s what this is.”
One day later, Mollie Hemingway from The Federalist wrote, “I don’t have a problem [with] getting dirt on election opponents from foreigners,” adding later that it’s pretty much the same thing as using the Steele dossier.
Tucker Carlson from Fox News was quick to endorse the line and told viewers that “Nobody is claiming that any information changed hands, though, even if it did, so what?”
This might not have been avoidable, but that doesn’t mean the new talking point is any less pathetic.
First of all, if getting assistance for a campaign from foreign adversaries is entirely okay, then why has Trump spent so much of his time and energy making up lies about it? If the accusation in question is basically meaningless, then why didn’t Trump argue this months before?
Second of all, people who constantly feel like moving the goalposts are almost always the losers in an argument. The original line Trump World and its allies gave was Russia did not attack our elections. Soon, the evolution came along: Alright, Russia might have attacked, but Trump’s campaign wasn’t in contact with our adversaries while they attacked. Alright, they might have been in contact, but they didn’t talk about the campaign. Alright, Team Trump might have spoken about the campaign to our adversaries while they attacked, but is that actually that bad?
When it comes to comparing the Steele dossier with Russia’s attack, it’s so embarrassingly weak that I’m slightly surprised that conservatives would seriously consider the line. There is a measurable difference between a team of researchers using sources to put an oppo report together and a foreign government that uses military intelligence officers to steal materials and weaponize them to put an ally in power.
People who view these two activities identically are either confused deeply or they are not making their argument in good faith.