This is a miserable day: there’s a small hurricane a few hundred miles to the south that is shooting enough rain over my area that the golf course has actually closed, and they rarely do that; I’m finishing four months mostly stuck at home doing my tiny part to stifle the spread of COVID-19, which has a renewed outbreak here in southeast Texas thanks mostly to simple impatience encouraged by misguided state and national political leadership; and while the Major League Baseball season finally began in Houston last night I found from watching just a bit of it on television that the lack of fan excitement in the ballpark compounded my disinterest arising from the off-season report that my team cheated.
But there is good news: support for Donald Trump among Republicans is starting to crack! Finally.
I do not understand—have never understood—the attraction of Donald Trump to the American people, beyond the fact that he is not Hillary Clinton and that was enough for many. Trump has no guiding philosophical principles (beyond self-enrichment and self-aggrandizement) that might attract like-minded people, and even if he did, you’d think the cold, clear reality that Trump lies (about everything) should be enough to persuade those people that he cannot be trusted in anything that he says. Even his TV catchphrase “You’re fired” was misleading, in that we’ve now seen that he doesn’t have the courage to fire anyone to their face, no matter how much they may deserve it. He’s a con man; a fraud. He’s also an incredible whiner, obsessed with whether people have been “fair” and “nice” to him—why didn’t he ever learn that life is not fair, and people are not always nice? (Has he looked in a mirror?)
He’s also proven himself to be conspicuously susceptible to praise—he thrives on having others tell him how great he is. Don’t think the leaders of Russia, China and North Korea haven’t noticed. I’ve never seen anything as demeaning as those Cabinet meetings and other gatherings at which Trump kicks it off by going around the table “giving” everyone the chance to open up their Roget’s and find new ways to kiss his ass—in public! Like they had a choice…I do not understand why, after the first one of those, the people around that table ever came back.
Actually, I think I do understand, at least to an extent: leaders of the Republican Party in and out of government are willing to put up with all the hideous and despicable behaviors of Trump because that’s the price to pay for getting what they want from having their party in power. What other reason could there be for men and women who have demonstrated their skill in the system and risen to these positions of power to now debase themselves without public complaint to the same man most of them strongly dismissed and ridiculed right up to the minute he secured their party’s nomination?
The “what” of “what do they want?” from Trump differs, of course. It could be as simple as political spoils, personal appointments or government contracts. It could be as clear as being part of the plan to advance a philosophical agenda, either by, for example, enabling racists to control the levers of power, or by installing a generation of judges to lifetime appointments to influence the nation’s laws. But in supporting him as president, they have also enabled all that we get from Trump: the disinterest in properly handling the government’s response to a pandemic, the misguided policy priorities, the self-inflicted trade wars, the attempts to use the government to enrich himself and to punish his enemies, the damage to relations with our allies as well as our enemies, including the attempt to blackmail a foreign leader for his personal and political gain that led to his impeachment. (Don’t forget impeachment!) And despite all that, the polls have been showing that Republicans still support him.
But if you look carefully, as Greg Sargent did in the Washington Post this week, you can see some cracks in that wall of support.
In a revealing aside, President Trump told chief propagandist Sean Hannity on Thursday night that he traces much of the overwhelming enthusiasm for his reelection now sweeping the country back to his Mount Rushmore speech commemorating Independence Day.
“Since that time, it’s been really something,” Trump told Hannity, before raging that fake polls are deliberately obscuring the mighty depth and reach of his support.
In that speech, Trump offered his canonical statement on the unleashing of federal law enforcement into cities, conflating protests against police brutality and systemic racism with a “far-left fascism” out to “take” our “national heritage” away from the “American people.”
At around the time Trump appeared on “Hannity,” all four Major League Baseball teams playing Opening Day games took a knee in solidarity with Black Lives Matter before the national anthem, flatly defying Trump’s relentless disparaging of the protests, and more broadly, the vision outlined in that speech.
In all kinds of ways, Trump’s depiction of this national moment, as enshrined in that speech, is losing its grip on the country. In some cases, Trump’s own officials are defying his efforts to carry that depiction to the authoritarian climax he so craves.
Meanwhile, Trump’s sinking popularity — which is linked to that loosening grip, as his efforts to impose that understanding on us are surely helping drive his numbers down — is leading to open defiance among his own party.
Players taking a knee in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, Republicans standing up to Trump on Confederacy issues and on vote by mail: Sargent cites these among seven examples where, across the country and including Republicans, people may finally be getting so tired of Trump and his constant drama that they are ready to tell him to shove it. I hope he’s right.
Another example: Republican Congressional candidates in the Houston area who recently won their party primary runoffs by trumpeting their support of Trump are kicking off the general election campaign by…toning it down. A lot.
Of course, I wonder why it’s taken so long, especially for elected officials who generally consider themselves, each and every one of them, the bright center of the universe around which all else revolves. After swallowing their pride and kowtowing to this spoiled child for so long, they would not be abandoning ship now if they thought he was going to win in November. Maybe they’ve finally seen the light and are doing what’s right for it’s own sake. (Right.) You decide.
Now. For. The. Twitter. Fun.