In a finding that should surprise precisely no one, it seems Trump voters are not only ignoring the report on Russian interference with US elections, but are actively hostile towards the notion and consider it to be nothing more than "fake news".
“Sour grapes,” explained Bob Marino, 79, weighing in on the recent spycraft bombshell from the corner table of a local McDonald’s.
“Sour grapes,” agreed Roger Noel, 65, sitting next to him.
“Bunch of crybabies,” Reed Guidry, 64, offered from across the table.
The subject of conversation was the report released by United States intelligence chiefs on Friday informing President-elect Donald J. Trump of their unanimous conclusion that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia ordered an extensive, but covert, cyberoperation to help Mr. Trump win the election. The Russians had hacked and leaked emails, unleashed “trolls” on social media and used their “state-run propaganda machine” to spread stories harmful to Hillary Clinton.
In Washington, the report was viewed as extraordinary, both for its timing, raising sharp questions about the president-elect’s legitimacy on the verge of his taking office, and for its assertions, describing the operation as Russia’s boldest effort yet to meddle with American elections, to spread discontent and to “undermine the U.S.-led democratic order.”
But interviews with Trump supporters here in Louisiana, a state the president-elect won by 20 points, and in Indiana, a state he won by nearly the same margin, found opinions about the report that ranged from general indifference to outright derision.
“From the parts of the report I’ve seen,” said Rob Maness, a retired Air Force colonel who twice ran for Senate here as Tea Party favorite, “it seems silly.”
There are genuine concerns about Russia’s cyberoperations, he said, but the notion that they changed the outcome of the election was absurd. (The report made no determination on how they affected the election.)
Of the comments he had seen from fellow Trump supporters on Facebook and in emails, he added, “90 percent of them are like, ‘What’s the big deal?’”
The Russians may have very well gotten involved, several people said. They added that kind of interference should be combated. But many assumed that foreign actors had long tried to play favorites in American elections, and that the United States had done the same in other countries’ elections. Even if the Russians did do it — which some were more willing to concede than others — what difference did it make? People did not need the Russians to make up their minds about Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Trump’s election opponent. Blaming her loss on the Russians was, as one Trump supporter here said, “just being sore losers.”
Again, there's nothing that Trump could do to lose support from Angry White America short of pledging to help those people like Obama and Clinton did. If the Russians were involved, so what? Even Republicans who are worried aren't going to lift a finger about it. Trump's promised to help them and punish the Obama coalition. That's all that matters.
As they watched their son skate with his Boy Scout group at the public ice rink in downtown Valparaiso, Monty and Mary Willis, both registered Republicans, considered the ramifications of the intelligence report.
“The idea of a fair election” had been placed in doubt, Ms. Willis said. “We were concerned about money being involved in the election. Now you’re talking about espionage.”
The Willises, who both work in real estate, might be Republicans, but they were not Trump voters. In fact, they had last voted for a Republican presidential candidate in 2008, when Senator John McCain of Arizona ran. The party seemed to have changed in recent years, they said. And the incoming administration had them deeply worried.
“Our president being in cahoots with the Russian government?” Mr. Willis said. “Yes, I’m very concerned about that.”
In Louisiana, David Gubert, 56, chain-smoked Eagle 20 cigarettes in the cab of his pickup, with stacks of firewood for sale behind him in the bed. Like the Willises, he ruminated on what it would mean if the Russians had gotten involved, and possibly even swung the election.
But Mr. Gubert came to a different conclusion.
“If that’s what it took,” he said, “I’m glad they did it.”
We are now ruled by those who believe anything is permissible as long as those people are the ones made to suffer as a result.