There was one point in the campaign where Trump was doing so badly that people were genuinely wondering if he was intentionally trying to lose. We’ve kinda hit that equivalent point in his presidency now it seems. I mean, he started out below water to begin with, after offending women, mexicans, muslims, veterans, judges, national security professionals, blah blah blah.
But since he came into office, he’s shown rampant nepotism, conflicts of interest bordering on outright corruption, poor intelligence, questionable judgment, and a complete lack of credibility and truthfulness from he and his staff. And I haven’t even gotten to the scandals yet. In just this week, he’s fired the Director of the FBI and openly admitted it was because said Director was investigating his administration. And then as if he needed a cherry on top, he leaked above-top-secret level information to the Russians, jeopardizing Israeli cooperation on such intelligence.
I mean, liberals were already salivating at the idea of impeaching him before this week. After this week, I’m not sure you could stop it from being drafted if they had control of the House. I still think that’s a bit hasty, but there’s no doubt we’ve crossed a new line.
And yet. 38% think all is just fine and dandy. Maybe it will work its way down to 36% after the polling catches up. How? How is this ok?
I’ve spent a little time trolling around the conservative media the last few days. I find it’s informative to keep in touch with that side. And the spin machine is working over time over there, let me tell you. Hannity is bouncing Trumps balls on his chin. Even for the conservative media, which has a low bar to begin with, this is a spectacular display of pants catching ablaze.
Many years ago, I became steeped in conservative talk radio as I drove around rural Missouri as a salesman, where there’s often nothing else to listen to. Rush Limbaugh was the best. He could rope a Berkeley Liberal in with his common sense points, and he would really get you nodding your head. Then he would build on that credibility by stretching his argument far beyond what reality or the facts supported and most of the idiots would still be nodding their head. My head, on the other hand, would be about to explode.
But this is the formula. Start with something that’s easy to agree with, stretch your argument or comparison beyond the weight it can hold, and then (this is the key) wrap it all up with a tribal reminder of unity. By this, I mean appeal to their group think. WE are not whiny liberals. WE are not welfare queens buying designer jeans……WE are not supporters of CROOKED HILLARY or EMPEROR OBAMA. We are common sense, salt of the earth people. We are the sane ones.
Here’s an example from yesterday’s Hannity show, showing why Trump was right to fire Comey. See, Crooked Hillary had thousands of confidential and top secret emails on her private server. Play up how terrible this was for several minutes and how she jeopardized national security. Compare this to Petty Officer First Class Kristian Saucier who was sentenced to prison for more than five years for keeping six cell-phone pictures taken inside classified spaces of the U.S.S. Alexandria in 2009. Play up how this case is almost identical to Clintons, in the fact that he just “happened to have these pictures on his cell phone” and scream about hypocrisy and double standards until you’re blue in the face. Make no mention of the fact that other evidence indicated he was engaged in espionage. Then explain THIS is why Comey had to go, because he let Clinton off (even though it’s not the reason Trump gave). Make no mention of the grave conflicts of interest in firing an FBI while he’s investigating you. Then appeal to the common bond of the listeners who universally agree that Clinton is the devil incarnate and Obama helped cover up her crimes.
Now, Hannity is less subtle and talented at this script than Limbaugh, but Limbaugh essentially tries to do the same thing. You start with a story about how Trump fired Comey, and you leave the segment angry about why Clinton still isn’t in jail, and at least Trump is trying to do something about that injustice.
I’m trying to figure out what it will take to change this status quo, but I know this. Trump will not fall below 40% approval consistently until republicans turn against him from within. Not because they feel pressured to, but because they feel that he’s abandoned their conservative principles. Right now they’re in “circle the wagons” mode.
If you’ve read this far, maybe you’re willing to read a little farther. Here’s a FANTASTIC article from Vox on the psychology of how Trump is managing to succeed despite being objectively terrible. The 7 psychological concepts that explain Trump.
Here’s the real kicker though. This level of corruption, ineptitude and outright lies, can only hold up so long. It will either break our democracy, break the republican party, or break the media (conservative or mainstream, I’m not sure which one). Trump is the master of taking whatever inane position the Tea Party fringe espouses and then taking it to it’s most logical extreme. In doing so, I genuinely wonder if the tribal cohesion of conservatives could shatter under the weight of the ridiculousness of the situation. Maybe people will actually realize Fox News is lying to them and that Sean Hannity might as well be Sean Spicer. Maybe people will realize that republican talking points on taxes, healthcare, entitlements and more are just total bullshit and they really just want to cut spending poor people so they can give rich people tax cuts. Based on the above article, I doubt it. But one can hope that some silver lining exists here.