The question has been asked, as it should be: did Russian interference in the 2016 election cause Donald Trump, America’s Number 2, to win the presidency? Until now, even the Chimps have been reticent to go that far. After all, the fruit of Russia’s hacking was mostly the drip-drip-drip of largely innocuous DNC musings leaked by that albino rapist Julian Assange.

It seems unlikely that anything John Podesta had to say about what Hillary Clinton had for breakfast on any given morning was outcome determinative of too many votes. To be sure, however, Putin’s stooge Trump lying and exaggerating about the contents of each wikileaks info dump did have some effect, as did the feckless media in breathlessly reporting on each newly leaked EMAIL (gasp!) as though it were interesting, let alone newsworthy.

348291-245c9d42-b6cc-11e3-9942-d7dbb3111cd3And certainly, the sum total of 1) Russia’s hacking and leaks, amplified beyond all reason by Trump and the media, and 2) whatever other mischief the Russians were up to (Propaganda? Information sharing? Fake news?), and 3) the unconscionable meddling by the teabagger caucus within the Federal Bureau of Intervention in Elections, did move the needle in the national vote percentage by at least a point or two – and yes, that would be outcome determinative as to the election.

As we’ve explained before, Trump cannot accept that he had help in getting where he’s landed. That narrative evokes in him a desperate psychological recoil against the self-loathing born of his deep-seated insecurity over his own intellectual imbecility, compromised manhood, and unearned station in life. When Trump hears, “Vladimir made you POTUS,” what he hears is, “Daddy made you rich.” Either averment is so utterly true as to be devastating; Trump cannot abide such an insult to his fragile psyche.

Today, intelligence leaders briefed Trump about Russia’s efforts to install him as president. As to any hope that Trump or his people might have had that his regime might come to be viewed as legitimate, the report was devastating. In the publicly available version, intelligence officers concluded that Putin ordered his people to undertake an operation that would hurt Clinton’s election chances, or, failing that, damage her presidency. As to whether Russia’s efforts were dispositive, the report states,

We did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election. The US Intelligence Community is charged with monitoring and assessing the intentions, capabilities, and actions of foreign actors; it does not analyze US political processes or US public opinion.

Critically, the US intelligence community offered no opinion about whether Russia’s operation caused Trump to win. But obviously (and purposefully), the intelligence community’s statement leaves wide open the possibility, if not the probability, that Russia did cause Trump’s election. Trump can’t cope with that, so here’s the statement he issued:

While Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat National Committee, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines.

Trump’s mental and personality disorders are sad, and his failure to address them is as pathetic as the media’s failure to acknowledge them. But we digress. As to Trump’s claim that Putin had no more to do with his election than Daddy had to do with his wealth, that claim is belied by one of the most important elements of this developing story: the nature of Russian officials’ celebration of their success. The Washington Post has put it thusly:

Senior officials in the Russian government celebrated Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton as a geopolitical win for Moscow, according to U.S. officials who said that American intelligence agencies intercepted communications in the aftermath of the election in which Russian officials congratulated themselves on the outcome.

The key word here is congratulate, which means “to express vicarious pleasure to (a person) on the occasion of success or good fortune.” While we do sometimes congratulate others merely for good fortune, the Chimps, linguists that we fancy ourselves, would suggest that this is not the usual usage for congratulate. It’s far more appropriate to use congratulate to celebrate success, not merely good fortune. Neither Chimp has ever said to somebody, “Congratulations for being tall,” or “Congratulations for being Italian,” or, for that matter, “Congratulations on your father’s money.” We don’t congratulate people for things they’re not responsible for. (We might say congratulations on winning the lotto, but only because a person who wins at least has to have bought a ticket.)

As to any completely unearned benefit you might enjoy, the Chimps might be happy for you, but we (like most English-language speakers, we think) would not congratulate you for it. You have magnificent bone structure? We’re happy for you. Your parents made sure you went to the best schools money could buy? We’re happy for you. Both your parents lived to 100 years old? We’re happy for you. Nobody you know ever died from cancer? We’re happy for you. Your boss is a great person? We’re happy for you.

When are congratulations in order? Let’s see. You pulled seven puppies out from a burning house? We congratulate you. You earned a full scholarship to attend college? We congratulate you. You quit drinking and got control of your life despite being an alcoholic? We congratulate you. You get the idea.

So when Russian officials congratulated one another for Trump’s election, they signaled that they considered themselves responsible for it. Can we say with certainty that they were responsible for it? No. But can we say that Russians think they were? Yes. And indeed, that makes it more likely that they actually were.

Given the most common usage for the word congratulate and the evidence it provides that Russians, at least, believe they caused Trump’s election, progressives must now create and own the narrative with a simple message that plays on emotions, is short and simple, and is easy to repeat: Russians installed Trump as their stooge.