So the president’s approval numbers have nudged back up, I see. During the government shutdown, he dipped down into the mid-30s; 34 percent was the lowest one I saw. But now it looks like he’s back in the low 40s.
I understand the 30 or so percent of the country that loves the guy. As loathsome as I find the man, I can totally get why some people adore him. He’s their cultural avenger. Easy.
The people who applaud the lock-’em up stuff are easy to account for. The people who are harder to get are the other 10 or whatever percent who aren’t MAGA-heads but who approve of the job he’s doing.
These people are utterly unfathomable to me. The ones who love him by definition can’t see what a crook, shyster, and cheater he is, what a bunch of grifters that whole family is, that he’s never lived an honest day in his life, that he’s a complete racist, that the only thing he thinks about any woman is whether she’s a piece of ass or not a piece of ass, and that on top of all that he’s a moron. I understand those people.
But the non-lovers who approve of the job he’s doing mystify me. How can they not see what a crook, shyster, and cheater he is, what a bunch of grifters that whole family is, that he’s never lived an honest day in his life, that he’s a complete racist, that the only thing he thinks about any woman is whether she’s a piece of ass or not a piece of ass, and that on top of all that he’s a moron?
These people really confuse me. I would have thought that if you’re not blinded by admiration for the guy, you’d see what a mobster he is and what an organized crime syndicate his White House is. But some people who fit this description evidently don’t see it. Who are they? What in the world is up with them?
I’m just guessing here, but I think they come in three flavors, these people. The dumb, the selfish, and the cynical.
First, the dumb. They’re the least interesting. There’s not much to say about them. They’re just… dumb. Nothing in their daily lives has changed much one way or the other, and they don’t remember anything from one week to the next anyway, so the idea that they might for example hold the memory in their heads of the stories about how the guy created a foundation and a “university” that were both total scams, among about a thousand other revolting things, is basically hopeless. They’re hopeless. Trying to get them to connect dots is like trying to teach a dog to use a toilet.
Next, the selfish. These are the people who give him a thumbs-up on approval because the economy is going well. These are pretty apolitical people. I’d say that these people would give a thumbs up to any president as long as the economy is doing well—as long as they themselves are doing well—but I don’t think that’s quite true. Since they fundamentally don’t really care about society but only themselves, they tend toward conservative attitudes and presumptions (low taxes, government off their backs, etc.)
They probably reflexively believe that Republicans are better for the economy, which has been factually untrue (PDF) since World War II. They don’t know or it doesn’t sink in that the last two recessions happened under Republican presidents, and the last two Democratic presidents had to clean up their messes (with admittedly varying degrees of success, but they did it). They just want more money in their pockets, and mistakenly think the GOP will give them that.
There was a story on HuffPo recently about a woman in Long Island who voted for Donald Trump and was thrilled about getting $90 more per pay period. Yeeha! But now it’s tax time, and she’s getting socked with a $5,000 tax bill, five times what she’s accustomed to.
Why? Because she lives in a high-tax state, and the Republicans and Trump fashioned the law to punish blue states by limiting deductions on state and local taxes. But more than that, they wrote the law in a way that led to many employers withholding less from people’s paychecks. So now this woman is steamed. Hey, whatever it takes, I guess.
It’s been said a million times that if or when we hit a recession, which more and more people see coming, Trump’s numbers will suffer. An obvious truism of presidential politics. But if I’m right, his numbers won’t fall as much as some people think, because the selfish are just one third of the 10 percent.
Which brings us to the deeply cynical. These are the people who think all the politicians are terrible, and Trump is different from the lot of them only by degree, not kind. They accept that he’s corrupt, but they think that all politicians are corrupt. They acknowledge that he lies sometimes, but they doubt he lies much more than anybody else lies. And they hate the establishment, which of course makes them kind of admire Trump.
I suspect that the deeply cynical—all three groups, really—are in for some big surprises ahead. I think Robert Mueller will tell us, assuming that the new attorney general doesn’t succeed in burying the report, that the president of the United States is essentially a pawn of a foreign government (Russia), and a whole lot of other stuff. I think House committee investigations will tell us how much money he and those ghoulish kids have been making since taking office, and maybe what he promised Putin with no one else in the room, and a dozen other things.
Will they see then, this baffling 10 percent of our fellow citizenry? I have no idea. I mean, my God, what does it take? This has been a real lesson in how constant the struggle is to get some people to acknowledge what’s in front of their noses, as Orwell said in his famous essay. The essay concludes on the morose note that “political opinions… will not have to be tested against solid reality.”
I hope and actually think that time will prove old George wrong, or at least wrong enough, on the matter of Trump. Reality day is coming.
Buy Michael Tomasky’s new book, If We Can Keep It: How the Republic Collapsed, and How It Might Be Saved, just out from Norton/Liveright. “Read this excellent book; it’s your civic duty,” says Kirkus Reviews.