Fair and Unbalanced

Mike Littwin

"The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles."

Littwin: The pope prays at the border. Trump insults him. Who wins?

Littwin: The pope prays at the border. Trump insults him. Who wins?

Now that we’ve seen the Donald and the Pope squaring off, we’re left with at least two questions.

One, what in the name of the Holy See was the pope thinking? Hadn’t he seen Donald Trump in action? Didn’t he realize that the Donald would call him “weak” or, gosh, “low energy”? Didn’t he understand the risks? When you insult someone — even if you’re insulting their Christianity — you’re playing in the Donald’s home court.

Two, in America, anyone can be a Christian who calls himself a Christian except apparently Barack Obama. So Trump, despite the long list of sins, qualifies. And if you say he doesn’t, he’ll insult your mother. And who knows where will go from there?

Fortunately, it was a brief skirmish. By the end of the day, Trump was calling Pope Francis a “wonderful guy.” But if it was brief, it was still entertaining, and also instructive.

By now everyone realizes that there is nothing Trump can say or do that will undermine his position with his fans — and I use the word advisedly — but this week he has definitely forced the issue. I mean, before going a few rounds with the pope, Trump had already called George W. Bush a liar on WMDs, called him out for the disaster that was the war that followed and then went semi-truther for pointing out the semi-obvious, that 9/11 actually happened on Bush’s watch. It sounded like a Bill Maher rant, and what happened to Trump — besides getting caught out for lying about when he first opposed the war?

Nothing happened. W. was coming to South Carolina to campaign for Jeb!, and something needed to be said to distract the voters, and Trump was there to do it.

But something will happen. The field of 17 Republicans is down to six — if you insist on counting Ben Carson — and unless the polls are all wrong, Trump is set to run away from that field Saturday in very conservative, veteran-heavy South Carolina, where everything Trump said about Bush would be disastrous if said by any Republican candidate not named Trump.

And unless the national polls are all wrong — except for one from NBC-Wall Street Journal that somehow has Ted Cruz winning — Trump is lapping the field. Trump says if he wins South Carolina, he could sweep the table. And even poll guru Nate Silver, who kept advising us that the Trump phenomenon was a mirage, who still talks about the Trump ceiling that the Republican establishment hopes is real, now gives him a 50 percent chance to win the nomination.

So, yeah, Trump can safely say the pope is “disgraceful” for questioning whether the Donald can champion a wall on the Mexican border and still be a Christian. It’s who he is. It’s what he does.

Strangely — or maybe it’s tragically — it’s how he’s winning.

It’s clear by now that Trump’s policy-challenged campaign is not about who’s the most conservative or about any ideology – he’ll leave it to Democrats to vote for the socialist — but about being the guy who doesn’t back down.

One theory is that Trump got into it with the pope because Marco Rubio is gaining ground in South Carolina and criticizing a pope, especially this liberal pope, works well with the evangelicals who dominate the Republican electorate in South Carolina and have history with Catholics, if not directly with the pope.

And maybe that’s it. It’s all strategy. But I doubt it. Let’s look at the trend lines.

The pope hits Trump. Trump hits back.

Putin praises Trump. Trump praises Putin.

McCain hits Trump. Trump says his idea of a war hero is the kind who isn’t captured by the enemy.

Strategy? Well, maybe it is of a kind. In a CNN town hall, Trump told Anderson Cooper that his weakness is that he holds a grudge. Well, the Republican base – or at least Trump’s part of it and Cruz’s part of it, and they seemed to have infected most of the rest of it — is nursing a yuge grudge. And by now, everyone has noticed. I mean, what did you have as the over-and-under in the use of the word “liar” in the last Republican debate?

Trump’s fans — and his campaign is the ultimate in picking a team and rooting for that team no matter what crimes and/or misdemeanors its players have committed — aren’t interested in the details of his policies or about his three wives or about his bankruptcies or about the eminent-domaining of little old ladies or about how he could possibly tell which people he’s going to stop at the border are Muslims and which are not. What Trump’s fans want — and Byron York did some nice reporting on this for The Washington Examiner — is for someone to blow things up, and who does that better than Trump?

And so the pope, on his last day of a visit to Mexico, comes to the border to pray for those who find themselves stuck on the wrong side. He implicitly criticizes Trump — because that’s who this pope is — and when asked on the plane ride back to Rome about Trump, we got the not-a-Christian answer, although the pope did qualify it by saying there might be more context in what Trump has to say than just building a wall.

So, of course, Trump struck back, slamming the pope for questioning his faith. “I’m proud to be a Christian, and as president I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened, unlike what is happening now with our current president.”

OK, it sounds a lot like Trump, in rebutting the pope, is actually questioning Obama’s Christian faith, just as Trump had questioned Cruz’s evangelical faith.

Demagoguery strikes deep. Or, as Anderson Cooper put it to Trump on the CNN town hall, is this what his presidency would be like — one long rant, one insult flowing from the last.

And Trump’s answer: “I can be more politically correct than anybody you’ve ever interviewed.”

Political correctness comes in many styles. But however it looks on Donald Trump in South Carolina, I’m betting it can’t last any longer than the first Jeb! sighting.


Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons, Flickr.

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About the Author

Mike Littwin

He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.
mlittwin@coloradoindependent.com | Twitter @mike_littwin


  1. Gabriel A. King on said:

    Actually the “God man” hypocrite Pope who sits on his golden throne insulted Donald Trump FIRST… by saying he wasn’t “Christian”… and that Trump’s border security plans were “not Christian” while he hides behind his thick Vatican walls having taken in no “migrants” himself like a hypocrite.

    Everyone sees the horror happen in Europe due to the MUSLIM INVASION and RapeFugee’s disguised as “refugees”… very few who are actually from Syria- and we have plenty of video of the clerics bragging BEFORE this all happened that they were going to invade Europe and turn it all into a caliphate.

    Islam was in fact CREATED by Rome, they groomed Muhammad from a child. Islam is not a “religion”, it is a violent fascist totalitarian theocratic mass rape cult which contains dozens of FELONY’S in its written doctrines. Islam is OPENLY HOSTILE to the Bill of Rights and western values- it’s adherents crime rates far higher than any other world religion.

    Thomas Jefferson (founder of the Democrat Party 1792) created the US Navy and Marines to fight these pirate Islamic bastards. And the “Crusades” were only launched after CENTURY’s of Muslims invading Europe committing rapes, slavery, murder, and atrocities. Anyone aiding and or abetting the Islam, or the Islamic invasion of the west is guilty of TREASON Article III, Section III.

  2. Don Lopez on said:

    They say politics makes strange bedfellows but none stranger than the Bishop of Rome and the very secular, very liberal Mr. Littwin.

    But twice in the last six months Mr. Littwin has found he and Pope Francis united not only in their opposition to the death penalty but in their views on the plight of migrants.

    There are, of course, cynics who suggest that this relationship, like the Clintons’ marriage, is merely for convenience enabling Mr. Littwin to mock Republicans while hiding behind a person of far greater stature and gravitas; that Mr. Littwin is trying to recapture a relevance he never had; that he disparately wants to avoid being remembered as “Mike who?”.

    I, of course, disagree. Religion takes on a new meaning for those who have, well, lived a lot and for those who realize that “Going to the End of the Line”, is more than just a song by the Traveling Wilburys.

    I believe Mr. Littwin will read again the pope’s views on abortion, which he reiterated in a press conference on the flight from Mexico:

    “Abortion is not the lesser of two evils. It is a crime. It is to throw someone out in order to save another. That’s what the Mafia does. It is a crime, an absolute evil, It’s against the Hippocratic oaths doctors must take. It is an evil in and of itself, but it is not a religious evil in the beginning, no, it’s a human evil. Then obviously, as with every human evil, each killing is condemned.”

    And Mr. Littwin will read again the pope’s views on marriage, which he gave during a visit to the Philippines, Asia’s most Catholic country.

    “The family is threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life,” Francis said at a Mass in Manila. “These realities are increasingly under attack from powerful forces, which threaten to disfigure God’s plan for creation.”

    And after Mr. Littwin reexamines these views he will realize that he and the Vicar of Christ have far more in common then he ever imagined.

    Or not.


    No serious Democratic rival has emerged, and none is expected. Clinton’s poll numbers against likely Republican contenders are stable and mostly positive. – Mike Littwin

    Because how can someone quite so polarizing be odds-on to win the Democratic nomination and also favored, according to the sports-betting sheets, to win the presidency?- Mike Littwin

    The expected attacks on Clinton will bring the base back to her. They always do.- Mike Littwin

    Bernie Sanders? At this point, he’s not even a Democrat.- Mike Littwin

    Clinton is a lock to win the presidential nomination.- Mike Littwin

    (Bernie Sanders) won’t hurt (Hillary)Clinton, who will win the nomination, and probably the presidency, because Republicans insist on demonizing her and Democrats will insist on defending her.- Mike Littwin

    “In one major poll, Bernie Sanders is now leading Hillary Clinton nationally. In most others, he’s not far behind from the former Secretary of State. Vermont’s Senator already has an “edge over Clinton in matchups with GOP opponents,” dispelling Clinton’s electability myth.

    In an average of national polls, Bernie Sanders is less than eight points from Hillary Clinton, after being over 50 points behind in 2015. In addition, there’s only one person capable of challenging a Republican in 2016 without James Comey declaring national security was jeopardized by a private server. – Salon.com

    Bernie Sanders is the only Democratic candidate capable of winning the White House in 2016. Please name the last person to win the presidency alongside an ongoing FBI investigation, negative favorability ratings, questions about character linked to continual flip-flops, a dubious money trail of donors, and the genuine contempt of the rival political party. In reality, Clinton is a liability to Democrats, and certainly not the person capable of ensuring liberal Supreme Court nominees and President Obama’s legacy.” – Salon.com

    “Things are tighter for the Democrats, where Hillary Clinton leads Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont by 44 percent to 42 percent. As with the Republicans, Mrs. Clinton wins on electability and leadership, but Mr. Sanders is seen as more truthful and better at relating to the needs of voters.

    The Quinnipiac survey had a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.” – New York Times

    “Over the past week, a hurricane seems to have hit the shores of Hillaryland. After suffering a landslide defeat in New Hampshire, the Clinton campaign is trying to figure out how to stop the growing storm that is Bernie Sanders. There have been reports that Hillary Clinton is planning to reorganize and hire some new staffers, while many supporters are starting to seriously worry about the campaign’s message, or lack thereof. Though members of the Clinton camp have denied any serious problems within the campaign, it is all reminiscent of 2008, when staff infighting and the rise of Obama doomed Clinton’s run.” – Salon.com

    “Call it “democratic socialism” to make yourself feel better, but what we have is an old hippie regurgitating cut-rate Lenin. And it’s obvious — especially when contrasted with the Democrat alternative — this kind of radical idealism is what really propels the Democratic Party.

    “Our job is not to divide. Our job is to bring people together!” Sanders roars in the ad. All genders, ethnicities, races, ages, and sexualities will meld into one and force government to “work” for everyone. The thing is, if we weren’t divide by our gender, race, class, and sexual orientation, Democrats wouldn’t win any elections.” – thefederalist.com

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Greenlight a Vet
    Folds of Honor
    Memorial Day – May 30, 2016

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