Candidate for U.S. Senate Thom Tillis at an early voting location in Cornelius, N.C. on Nov. 1, 2014.
Chris Keane/Reuters

GOP senator on Russia scandal: ‘We live in a big glass house’

Updated
About a year ago, Donald Trump appeared on MSNBC and was asked about accusations that Vladimir Putin has ordered the murder of journalists. “Well,” Trump replied, “I think our country does plenty of killing also.”

In July, Trump was asked if he’d urge foreign nations, accused of human rights abuses, to improve their approach to civil rights and civil liberties. “I don’t think we have a right to lecture,” he said, dismissing the United States’ moral authority. Trump added, “When the world looks at how bad the United States is, and then we go and talk about civil liberties, I don’t think we’re a very good messenger,”

The public isn’t accustomed to hearing American leaders run down America’s moral standing – “how bad the United States is” – and such talk used to be seen as unpatriotic. Trump did it anyway, and many voters didn’t much care.

Oddly enough, this approach appears to be spreading. TPM reported yesterday:
During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on foreign cyberthreats to the United States, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) argued that America had often meddled in other countries’ elections and warned against overreacting to interference in our own.

Referencing research from Carnegie Mellon University that found that the United States had been involved in 81 different foreign elections since World War II, Tillis emphasized that Russia’s interference in the 2016 election was not unique on the world stage.
The North Carolina Republican specifically said, in reference to Russia’s alleged interference in our presidential election, “[W]e in a big glass house and there are a lot of rocks to throw.”

To be sure, Tillis isn’t wrong about the history; there’s credible evidence that the United States, especially during the Cold War, intervened in foreign elections on multiple occasions.

But what’s surprising is the same thing that stood out in Trump’s criticism of America during the campaign: the right never used to question the moral authority of the United States, and now it’s becoming almost routine.

Tillis’ argument yesterday, in effect, was that America has done bad things, so we shouldn’t be too quick to criticize foreign bad actors who appear to have done bad things of their own – even to us. There is, apparently, a moral equivalency, which helps mitigate the seriousness of the suspected Russian attempts to subvert our democracy.

I honestly never thought I’d see the day in which Republicans spoke openly this way, and few even take notice.