In the Russia scandal, imagine if the shoe were on the other foot

A child walks past a graffiti depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on the walls of a bar in the old town in Vilnius, Lithuania, May 14, 2016. (Photo by Mindaugas Kulbis/AP)
A child walks past a graffiti depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on the walls of a bar in the old town in Vilnius, Lithuania, May 14, 2016.
It's a phrase many on the right have quickly grown to hate: "If this were happening to a Democrat...." I can appreciate why this annoys so many conservatives; the framing is almost certainly used a little too often.But once in a while, it's almost unavoidable.Imagine if Hillary Clinton spent months praising the president of China, hiring lobbyists with ties to Xi Jinping, changing the Democratic Party's platform to be more in line with China's wishes, and vowing to change U.S. foreign policy to make it far friendly towards China.Then imagine, reports surfaced that China hacked Republican computers in order to steal information to hurt Donald Trump. Soon after, in this hypothetical, imagine if Clinton held a press conference in which she encouraged Chinese espionage agencies to hack Trump's computers in order to help her win the presidential election.Imagine if Democratic leaders were made aware of China's alleged crimes, but said and did nothing, because they were principally concerned with winning an election.Imagine, after the election, that U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that China was deliberately working to elect Clinton, prompting Clinton -- who lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes -- to denounce U.S. officials' work, defend China, and balk at calls for an independent investigation.What do you suppose the reaction would be from Republicans and the Beltway?I suspect we'd hear a very specific phrase that would dominate the discourse: "constitutional crisis."Except this hypothetical is precisely what happened: just substitute Clinton for Trump, Democrat for Republican, China for Russia, and Xi Jinping for Vladimir Putin.U.S. intelligence agencies believes a foreign adversary subverted an American election in order to elect an unqualified television personality to the presidency. If the evidence is correct, this may very well be among the most important and consequential crimes in the history of the United States -- a crime that some elected Republican officials knew about, but chose to overlook because their candidate might benefit from the foreign intervention.This is the stuff of the Founding Fathers' nightmares.If the partisan shoe were on the other foot, it's hard to overstate the ferocity with which Republicans would question the legitimacy of Clinton's presidency. National Review's Jay Nordlinger noted yesterday that if a foreign intelligence operation had worked to elect a Democrat over a Republican, conservatives would rightly "talk of nothing else."