Former CIA and NSA chief Michael Hayden handled the latest shifting of goalposts for the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory industry in an interview posted on Tuesday. Hayden conceded that “collusion” between Russia and the Trump 2016 campaign cannot yet be proven, so he lowered the bar to “convergence,” a far more nebulous accusation that requires no proof whatsoever.
“There is an eerie and uncomfortable echo between some of the things the president tweets, the different points of emphasis on Fox News, the thematic stories in the alt-right media, and Russian bots,” Hayden told Edward-Isaac Dovere in a Politico podcast interview.
“I don’t have to create collusion here: Each for their own purposes are well-served by creating deeper divisions within American society. The president, to play to his base; Fox News, for ratings; the alt-right, because they have a conspiratorial view of everything; and the Russians, to mess with our heads,” he continued.
Hayden neatly managed to corral everyone the Left and NeverTrump dislikes while leaving the bitterly divisive voices of the Left – last heard accusing everyone who disagrees with them on gun control of being accessories to the murder of children – out of his formulation. Of course Fox News is the only network interested in ratings over the chaste pursuit of absolute objective truth! CNN, for example, would never dream of exploiting major events in an ugly partisan manner to juice its ratings.
With his preferred political cattle herded into the slaughterhouse, Hayden proceeded to nail them between the eyes with the bolt gun of “convergence of interests,” a legally meaningless charge that happily requires not the tiniest bit of evidence to “prove.”
Under convergence theory, you could be a pawn of sinister Russian interests without even realizing it – and then you might wake up one morning to find a news crew camped on the lawn of your suburban hacienda, loaded with the kind of tough questions they would never dream of asking someone like former FBI Director James Comey or Senator Bernie Sanders, both of whom could also be accused of “converging” with Russia under the standard Hayden laid out. You might even find yourself hounded by snarling left-wing hate mobs after a major TV network doxxes you for the sin of convergence.
“The overall objective of the Russian effort was to mess with our heads and erode confidence, and they decided by mid-summer that the very best way they could mess with our heads was to make more people vote for Donald Trump, period,” Hayden asserted.
That’s actually not at all what the intelligence community says the Russians were doing in 2016, and more importantly in 2017, when the majority of their magical social media money – supposedly hundreds of times more powerful than the dollars Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton spent on their campaigns – was invested.
The effectiveness of Russian election meddling is the subject of heated debate, but there is no question whatsoever that their efforts began long before Donald Trump became the Republican nominee for president, and continued after he took the oath of office.
Hayden actually touched on that point by moving on to warnings that 2016 was merely a “probing attack” from the Russians, and they might have even worse mischief in mind for 2018 and 2020 – a warning that would make no sense if Moscow’s objective was to get Trump elected.
If there will be any sinister convergence of interests in 2018, it would be Democrats and hardcore anti-Trump Republicans advancing Russia’s interests by further weakening the Trump presidency, or even attempting to end it and throw the country into chaos with an impeachment circus.
Moscow is clearly unhappy with how the Trump administration turned out. If our paramount objective is to avoid convergence with the interests of Vladimir Putin, we should refrain from helping Democrats paralyze the administration or attack its legitimacy. There could be nothing Putin desires more than a deadlocked American government beating the crap out of itself like Edward Norton in Fight Club for at least two years while Russia runs wild.
It would be interesting to apply the analytical tools of convergence theory to situations such as the Obama administration’s curiously consistent convergence of interests with the government of Iran, but that might not be an avenue Hayden – described at the end of the Politico piece as a CNN contributor who nearly blew his stack after President Trump criticized the network, and whose recent social media activity included “liking a tweet over the weekend about United Airlines dropping discounts for National Rifle Association members in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida” – would feel comfortable exploring.
The name of the game is smearing everyone who dared to vote against Hillary Clinton as a willing accomplice, unwitting tool, or hapless dupe of sinister forces, effectively erasing the 2016 election from the history books. Few who profess to be deeply concerned about Russian interference in American elections seem worried about aiding future Moscow mischief by telling the American electorate their 2016 votes didn’t count, thus fomenting unprecedented social strife, legal quagmires, and political chaos.