Give it to Russia: They keep topping themselves. Normally the World Anti-Doping Agency announcing that a nation engaged in a “systematic and centralized cover-up” involving more than 1,000 athletes from 30 sports corrupting the 2012 Olympics “on an unprecedented scale” would be a big deal, but it’s been overshadowed by the near-simultaneous reveal of CIA findings that Russia worked to help Donald Trump win the White House.
The Trump team has, of course, dismissed the reports: “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history.”
Fact check: Trump’s Electoral College victory is one of the smallest in history, dwarfed by both of Barack Obama’s victories, both of Bill Clinton’s victories, both of Ronald Reagan’s victories, both of Dwight Eisenhower’s victories, all four of FDR’s victories and loads of others.
However, some observers theorize that Russia’s need to be seen as a force altering elections is greater than their ability to actually be one. In an interview by Vox, the Russian media researcher Vasily Gatov asserted that Russia’s capacity to shape our nation “is dramatically overstated in American media, but that only serves them better. It creates the impression that they’re more powerful than they are.”
With that in mind, we suggest Putin and co. further demonstrate their influence by meddling in the following scenarios:
1. Getting Los Angeles Laker (and St. Petersburg native) Timofey Mozgov (and his 8.4 points per game) named the starting center for the Western Conference at the NBA All-Star Game.
2. Arranging for enough NHL stars to be suspended or otherwise “temporarily incapacitated” for Moscow-born Alexander Ovechkin’s Washington Capitals at last to win a Stanley Cup. (Or at least reach a Finals.)
4. Come Oscar time, lining up at least a handful of nominations for Power, the film Putin commissioned about himself.
5. Further meddling in the votes in other countries. (Actually, this one is a legitimate concern in places like France and Germany, yikes.)
Then again, despite absurdly aggressive cheating at the 2012 Olympics, Russia finished fourth in gold medals. And even if Russia was meddling in our election with the clear goal of getting Donald Trump elected, it’s worth examining what’s happened to some other supporters of The Donald.
Trump’s two biggest early champions were former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and New Jersey governor Chris Christie. Giuliani aggressively lobbied to be Secretary of State, only to drop out of consideration after the announcement that other candidates were being reviewed. Christie was the chairperson of the transition team only to be abruptly dumped and replaced by VP-elect Mike Pence. Trump also rejected Christie for Veep and Attorney General.
In other words, for backing Trump, they got nothing. Or should we say nichego, Vlad?