May 15, 2017: Trump on the Edge | Two Scoops of Anger | Open Marriage
1. A Fine Line: Trump on the Edge
Last week, we noted that Trump loyalists were towing the White House line on the firing of the F.B.I. director, James Comey. But then came Trump's impulsive tweets on the dismissal and his hint that he might have recorded conversations with Comey. Some voices on right-wing outlets began to raise questions.
The Fox News daily newsletter Halftime Report sounded downright concerned:
“In life and in politics there is a line between defending someone and enabling them. What is happening these days with Trump and his core supporters is getting way past defense.
In the end, if Trump is proven right, and there was no information sharing or collusion between his campaign and Kremlin-allied entities, the president’s intemperate comments will not add up to much.
All this will have been is a sorry incident in which a frustrated commander in chief lashed out against his critics, making his reputation and his staff collateral damage in the process. Also harmed will have been Trump’s agenda and the already weak bonds of trust between him and his fellow Republicans in Congress.
And that’s the best case scenario.
The darker side of the street looks like this: Democrats retake the House in 2018, investigators find that one of Trump’s underlings had been in cahoots with Putinists and Trump’s remark to Lester Holt “when I decided to [fire Comey], I said to myself, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story,” would surely make it into the articles of impeachment.”
On air, Chris Wallace, the anchor of “Fox Sunday,” was asked by Shepard Smith on Friday about the possible taping in the White House. He sounded horrified:
“It took my breath away. That was what in Watergate they called a non-denial-denial… He could have said ‘no,’ he could have said ‘yes.’ He said he had nothing for you on that. That’s a non-denial denial… look it could be that the president is trolling the press corp… working them up in a frenzy so he can say ‘it is nothing…’ but it seems to me that you are playing a very dangerous game with the currency of the credibility of the United States.”
What We’re Watching
Ok, sure, but how is Comey’s firing playing with voters?
According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll out Sunday, just 29 percent of Americans approve of the firing. However, a majority of Republicans approve and Trump’s overall approval ratings haven’t dropped at all.
HotAir’s anonymous AllahPundit explained why he wasn’t worried about the negative numbers:
Give people the “not sure” option (a.k.a. the “who’s Comey again?” option) and a third of them will choose that. Nudge them to make up their minds and they’ll tilt into the “meh, I don’t like Trump so I’ll say ‘oppose'” column. Note that support in both cases isn’t far from Trump’s overall job approval, which stands at 41.9 percent today in the RCP average. If you like Trump, chances are you’re cool with what he did to Comey; if you don’t, you don’t. Same as it ever was.
One amusing note from Morning Consult, though: Three weeks ago, just 31 percent of Republicans thought Trump should remove Comey. Today, 62 percent do. The number literally doubled, practically overnight. Mmmmmm, that’s good partisanship. (Democrats were surprisingly stable by comparison: 22 percent supported firing Comey last month, 16 percent support it now.)
2. Two Scoops of Anger
Time magazine reported this gem: At a recent dinner, the president was served two scoops of ice cream when everyone else got one. It was such a delicious bit of revealing selfishness that it got wide play among cable news gabbers and late-night comedians. It drove the Red Media nuts. Here is Rush Limbaugh:
“I don’t know what you call this, insane. I don’t know if you say it’s rooted in hatred…
This was a serious news item in TIME magazine (the same place that told us boys and girls are born different), and it was judged to be so revealing and so indicative of the kind of mean guy Trump is that they talked about it on CNN yesterday. “He gets two scoops, and you only get one!” Does anybody remember…? Outside of Michelle Obama’s ludicrous school menu, does anybody remember details of dining in the White House with the Obamas? Of course not. They’re losing it, they’ve lost it, and the evidence is abundant each and every day.”
What We’re Watching
And while we are talking about MainStream Media stories that drove the Red Media to distraction, might we mention The New York Times Sunday Magazine cover story about open marriages?
“This Is How the Elite Poisons Our Culture,” complained National Review, which goes on to describes the couples in the piece:
“What’s revolting is the sheer selfishness of one or both of the spouses involved. Their obsession with a completely fulfilling and intoxicating sex life borders on the pathological. They seem to regard a boring marriage bed as a human-rights violation, as if they were absolutely entitled to thrilling sex.
Here’s one wife describing her insistence on maintaining an extramarital relationship: “I really just felt like it was right, like it was important to my growth. It was like I was choosing to take a stand for my own pleasure and sticking to it. It was so strong, that feeling.”
Sex and growth — those themes echo throughout the piece. The ideal marriage (apparently) is one in which both parties experience incredible orgasms and explore the many layers of their personalities. The only absolute moral duties are self-fulfillment and a degree of transparency.”
Hmmm. We wonder how National Review feels about politicians who sanctify marriage so much that they’ve had three of them, like our president?
3. Donald Trump, Warrior for the Christian Right
Those still loyal to their POTUS were eager to report on Trump’s commencement address to a crowd of 50,000 at Liberty University, where he was awarded a Doctorate of Law.
Liberty University is a private, non-profit Christian university located in Lynchburg, Virginia. As noted by The Washington Examiner, Trump and the university have some history. Its president, Jerry Falwell Jr., was a supporter of Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign and praised Trump in 2012 for “single-handedly forcing President Obama to release his birth certificate.”
Playing to a mostly loyal audience, Trump used the opportunity to take a couple of digs at his critics.
Wrote Gateway Pundit, in a story that ran with the headline: TRUMP Speaks at Liberty University Commencement – Blasts Critics – Graduates Wear #MAGA Hats!:
President Trump told the graduates to reach for their dreams and that “nothing is easier or more pathetic than being a critic.” No doubt this was a shot at the liberal media and their political party.
Meanwhile, the website Christianity Today focused on Trump’s history with Falwell and the religious Right’s continued love affair with the president. It wrote:
As much as some may quibble with [Falwell’s] characterization of Trump as evangelical’s “dream” leader, the latest polls show more white evangelicals side with Falwell than with the detractors.
At this point, white evangelicals are twice as likely as Americans on average to approve of the new president, according to a reportreleased last month by the Pew Research Center. Surveying Trump’s performance so far, 78 percent of white evangelicals are on his side. (For comparison, the same demographic indicated a 72 percent approval rating for George W. Bush early in his presidency.)
Trump’s rating was even higher—80 percent approval—among white evangelicals who attend church at least once a month. Despite speculation during the campaign that Trump’s evangelical support didn’t reflect faithful churchgoers, Pew confirmed that this was indeed a key voting bloc for Trump: Three-quarters said they had intended to vote for him.
And to give you a sense of what the younger people on the religious Right think of Trump, here’s an excerpt from a Fox News segment, where Jesse Watters asks Liberty students if they think Trump is a true believer in Christ.
Said one female student, “He says that he is, and I can’t see his heart, so I’m going to say, I’m going to believe his word.”
Another woman was a little more skeptical: “I can see why it is hard to believe that… his abrasiveness, his comments, things like that…”
4. Impeach Maxine
The outspoken California congresswoman Maxine Waters, who keeps calling for Trump’s impeachment, has long been a favorite target of Alt-Righters. This weekend, the hate seemed to jump a level. Mimicking the outraged Democrats who have been dogging Republicans at their town halls, Trump supporters busted in on one of Waters’ held in Inglewood, Calif. on Saturday. Several had to be escorted from the hall as they screamed at the congresswoman.
Then, all over downtown Los Angeles, “Impeach Maxine” art appeared, calling the congresswoman a “poverty pimp” and a “race baiter,” among other insults. Soon #ImpeachMaxineWaters was trending on Twitter.
5. What We’re Reading
Buzzfeed reports that alt-right outlets are not just spreading outrageous untruths -- they’re actually breaking real news and getting real scoops, probably, but not entirely, because they are close to the administration. What’s the Mainstream Media to do?
Local TV is the unsexy part of the media but its news programming has political clout, often in swing states and usually under the radar of national political reporters. The New York Times writes about how the expanding Sinclair Broadcast Group has been forcing its local stations to air conservative-slanted news segments that it produces at its own headquarters..
In an interview with The Daily Caller, the scholar Victor Davis Hanson discussed how the repeated messaging of influential Democrats about the “big lie” of Russian collusion has raised doubts and suspicions without actual evidence. Hanson then criticized the Neo-Cons for their focus on Trump’s appearance, accent, and gaudiness. (Which he calls “class-driven hostility.”) Finally, he said, “the polarization Obama’s identity politics brought to America will largely evaporate if Trump is able to bring about economic growth.” He called the Democratic leaders “geriatric” and the younger ones “unhinged and in search of an identity.”