Lost in All This

You know those times in life when you look back and ask yourself, “How did it get lost in all this that . . . ?”

Fill in the blank.

  • “How did it get lost in all this that . . .  he wasn’t misunderstood — he was really just a jerk?”

You get caught up in everything — lots of drama, lots of debate — and you lose perspective.  You miss what’s right there in front of you.

  • “How did it get lost in all this that . . .  she wasn’t unfairly treated, she just didn’t work very hard?”
  • “How did it get lost in all this that . . .  the judge wasn’t overreacting — we probably shouldn’t have fed beer to those goats in the first place?”

And so on.  

Years later you look back and wonder how you could be so dumb.  It was right there in front of you!  

But as George Orwell once wrote, “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.”

And so it’s been in this election:

  • How did it get lost in all this that Hillary Clinton is the most qualified candidate ever to run for President?
  • How did it get lost in all this that Donald Trump — never having held political office — is one of the least?
  • How did it get lost in all this that this is a historic election — the first woman ever to be nominated for President?  (Strange as it is to say, this seems to have been almost completely forgotten.)
  • How did it get lost in all this that Donald Trump, who claims the system is “rigged,” is his own best counterexample?  How would he have beaten Jeb Bush and his $120 million war chest if our system was truly rigged?

And here’s the one that stands out most to me this week:

  • How did it get lost in all this that Russia is hacking us — and the Republicans (the Republicans!) are largely okay with it?

How did this get lost in everything?

Let’s forget for a minute the massive implications of the Wikileaks hacks: namely that the Russians are likely trying to undermine our democratic process.  Let’s forget that Putin, with his own rigged elections, has every reason to discredit democracy.  Let’s forget that all this should give pause to anyone who enjoys walking to the polls without stopping to have a mandatory chat with armed guards about your voting preferences.  Forget all of that for a moment.

Let’s start with something more basic that I think has been lost: What these hackers are doing is illegal.

Nobody’s talking about this.  Computer hacking is a crime.  Hacking John Podesta’s emails is not a lot different than breaking into his house and stealing his computer.  If that had happened, would we be reacting differently?  Forget privacy: it’s theft.

By not denouncing these criminal acts, Donald Trump and his followers are setting a bad precedent: they’re encouraging break-ins.  Trump calls Clinton’s email revelations “the biggest (scandal) since Watergate.” But by condoning illegal break-ins to expose his opponent’s secrets, Donald Trump isn’t exposing Watergate.  He’s condoning it.

Have we simply gotten to a point where we’re so used to our online information being shared that we don’t care about hacking?  Are people so enraged by Hillary Clinton’s keeping private public documents that they don’t care the Russians want to undermine democracy — so long as she gets her just deserts?  The same Republicans who were so critical of Edward Snowden’s Wikileaks hacks are suddenly fine with Julian Assange now?  Doesn’t the fact that it’s clearly Putin behind things bother any Republicans?  Weren’t they — just yesterday, it seems, the party of tough-talking international policing?  Weren’t they just taking a hard line on Russia during the last two elections?

Furthermore, what happened to being conservative?

Conservative.  If you’re going to call yourself that, the word needs to mean something.  It seems to me that conservatism should imply nothing so much as conserving our laws and traditions.  Why didn’t Trump stand up and say, “What Russia is doing is unacceptable.  They don’t get to mess with us.  I won’t let that happen under me.  I’ll get to the bottom of this,” while also saying, “Yet they’ve exposed corruption in my opponent, and I’ll put an end to that too”?  

Wouldn’t that have been not only smart and consistent, but — dare I say it — conservative?

Trump is clearly not conservative in any shape or form.  He has even gone so far as to encourage Russian hacking.  Stop to think about that for a minute every time new Clinton emails are released.  Is that a deal with the devil we really want to make?  

How has that been lost in all of this?

The debate about Wikileaks really comes down to the classic question: do the ends justify the means?  A friend of mine distilled the question to its essence recently on social media:

“If you know someone committed a crime and the evidence of that crime is in their house, is it wrong to break into their house to get that information?”

The best response came from another friend, who happens to be a lawyer.

“Yes,” he wrote.  “Only law enforcement can do that and they need a search warrant. It’s the 4th amendment. That’s in the constitution.”

That’s a conservative (small c) answer.  And that’s why what’s going on with Wikileaks right now should give any Republican who’s supporting Trump cause for concern.  Because as Marco Rubio put it recently, “Tomorrow it could be us.”

And that’s what’s been lost in all of this.

That and a whole lot else.