U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, a Democrat who just won re-election to office, has been pushed over the edge by Donald Trump, according to a story in the New York Post.
“What finally pushed me over the edge, Himes said in an interview on CNN’s New Day, “was when the president-elect of the United States criticized the CIA and the intelligence community. Can you imagine what the leaders in Beijing and Moscow and Tehran are thinking as they watch the next president of the United States delegitimize and criticize his own intelligence community and stand up for the defense of Russia, one of our prime adversaries.”
Mr. Himes must have been standing very close to the edge, because he believes that Mr. Trump’s remarks on the CIA report show that the President-Elect is unhinged: “We’re five weeks from inauguration and the president-elect is completely unhinged.” In plain-speak, “completely unhinged” means that he’s nuts.
Among Democratic politicians still suffering from painful election losses – Republicans, this election season won the House, Senate and White House, a trifecta – the expression may indicate a general unease with the results of the election, rather than a serious appraisal of Mr. Trump’s mental health. Wounded politicians under stress are occasionally subject to hissy fits.
We should be thankful that the CIA, unlike Caesar’s wife, is not yet above criticism. Mr. Himes failed to note in his press response that reports issuing from the CIA and the FBI were in conflict. The FBI’s investigation found no unimpeachable evidence that Russian intelligence services – which, like their counterparts at the CIA, engage in hacking – had materially affected the U.S. elections. The CIA instructed members of Congress that Russian intelligence services did engage in hacking, perhaps through intermediaries, but hard evidence supporting the charge has not, and probably will not, be made public, principally because the CIA as a rule safeguards top-secret information more diligently than did former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose loss to Mr. Trump has unhinged many a Democrat.
Mr. Himes will appreciate the distinction between spying, which may include acquiring data by hacking, and election interference through the manipulation of voting data. In fact, it would be nearly impossible for Russian spooks to manipulate election votes, because polling machines carry separate computer chips. Mr. Himes has not charged Russians with manipulating voter data, to be sure, but the charge he does make is broad and amorphous enough to leave in the public mind the notion that foreign entities have tampered with our near sacred voting process.
“The leaders in Beijing and Moscow and Tehran,” we know, are all expert in the fine art of hacking, as is the CIA -- one hopes. China in particular has masterfully exploiting data it illicitly gathered from American businesses, which permits it to produce products – cheap drone knockoffs, for instance – it then underprices and sells to countries such as North Korea, Iran and Syria, all announced enemies of the United States, a continuing practice that really should push American politicians over the tolerance edge.
Some Republicans and many Democrats have urged that a special prosecutor should be appointed to examine hacking by foreign entities and their bearing, if any, on elections. Mr. Himes is not new to investigatory work; he serves on The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which conducts oversight of the U.S. Intelligence Community. He must know that the proper venue for the investigation of possible voter interference by foreign entities lies within the political jurisdiction of appropriate Senate committees.
Timorously peeking out of Mr. Himes’s campaign hoopla is a serious point. Mr. Trump should be more concerned than he appears to be with Vladimir Putin’s ambitions affecting Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States and his bosom buddies in the Middle East, which include Bashir Assad, Syria’s mass murderer, and the ayatollahs in Iran who, despite Mr. Obama’s velvet-glove treatment, continue to finance terrorist organizations with the planeloads of cash given to them by Mr. Obama as a side agreement to a deal struck between Mr. Obama and the Iranian regime; suspiciously, the dark deal arranged between Iran and the United States was never referred to the Congress for its advice and consent.
Neither Mr. Himes nor any of the six other members of Connecticut’s all Democratic U.S. congressional delegation were advised by Mr. Obama that planeloads of hard cash, easily transferable to Hamas, a militant organization that grew out of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood movement in the 1990s and the early 2000s, were in the dead of night delivered to terrorists that had conducted numerous suicide bombings and other attacks against Israel. U.S. Sen. Dick Blumenthal's silence on matters affecting Israel in particular is crushing. Mr. Blumenthal is Jewish. Had Mr. Himes been advised that American taxpayers were clandestinely supporting a heavily armed anti-Israeli terrorist group, presumably he might rightly have been pushed over the edge.
Don Pesci (firstname.lastname@example.org) is apolitical writer who lives in Vernon, Conn.