A Brief History of Election Meddling

This brief history of election meddling is brought to you by National Review, which is posting this second in a series of excerpts from Andrew C. McCarthy’s new book Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency.

They have tried to influence elections in Russia and Israel, and have sought the Russians’ help to get elected here.

“The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.”

Thus spoke President Barack Obama just a couple of weeks before Election Day 2012. With the race still thought to be tight, he had come to the candidates’ final debate loaded for bear. Earlier in the campaign, his Republican rival, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, had had the temerity to pronounce that Russia was, “without question, our number-one geopolitical foe.” The incumbent president regarded this as an absurd anachronism. So that night, he brought the snark. Hadn’t anyone informed Romney that “the Cold War’s been over for 20 years”?

Obama tut-tutted that this Republican nostalgia for the foreign policy of the 1980s was of a piece with the GOP’s desire to revive the “social policy of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s.” Yes, that was your Democratic-party standard-bearer, what seems like only yesterday. No longer was this the party of Harry Truman and Jack Kennedy. To Obama-era Democrats, arguing that Russia was a real threat, that it longed for a return to Soviet hegemony, was akin to calling for the return of Jim Crow and the adoption of protectionist practices that helped ignite the Great Depression.

But then Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election, and Democrats decided they’d best return that call from the 1980s after all. It turns out Russia — the Russia against whose serial aggressions Obama took little meaningful action throughout his eight years in office — really is our Numero Uno geopolitical foe. Turns out the Cold War isn’t “so last century.” Since November 8, 2016, in ever-evolving Democratic dogma, Russia has gone from a quaint obsession of neocon warmongers to an existential threat on the order of Climate Change!

Read more: National Review