Fair and Unbalanced

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Mike Littwin

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

Littwin: We’re in yet another Trump storm, and what if it doesn’t blow over by November?

Littwin: We’re in yet another Trump storm, and what if it doesn’t blow over by November?

I’ve got bad news. I know. I write about Trump a lot. There’s always bad news.

But this bad news could be worse.

If the polls are right, Republicans are coming back to Trump. According to the latest Gallup poll, Trump’s job approval among Republicans is — wait for it — 90 freaking percent. That can’t be possible, and yet Quinnipiac just came out with 84 percent. Those are big numbers. Even in our hyperpartisan times, those are big numbers. In political terms, that’s pretty close to unanimous. Over Obama’s term, he averaged 83 percent among Democrats. Reagan was 83 percent among Republicans. And Trump’s at 90?

So there it is. The stock market is crazy, but the economy is basically good, if you don’t count the massive inequality and the fact of a tax cut that just poured about a trillion dollars into rich guys’ bottomless pockets. But maybe that’s enough.

Yes, we’re in the midst of another Trumpian storm. But the latest storm is much like every other — frightening, yet hilarious. Sort of like the comedy horror movie “Get Out,” my favorite to win the best-picture Academy Award. It won’t win, of course, but what would you expect?

Let’s see. Stock market craziness. Nunes Memo washout.  Trump’s declaration, which Senate Republicans seem ready to ignore, that he’d “love” to see the government shut down if he doesn’t get what he wants. Trump’s going all Roy Cohn in his charge — do you think it was a joke? — that those who refuse to applaud him are “un-American” and “treasonous.” (Journalists are presumably exempt, on account of the sacrosanct no-cheering-from-the-press-box standard and, yeah, the First Amendment.)

Wait, there’s more. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s charge that the eligible Dreamers who didn’t sign up for DACA were “too lazy to get off their asses.” Trump’s even more bizarre — and you wish it were a joke — plans for a mine’s-bigger-than-yours military parade, a garish display of American military might that may or may not include Trump’s desk with the Diet Coke button.

You’d think that the every-week-ness of TrumpWorld would be enough to ensure a November midterm wave and a return to something like normalcy. And yet. Trump’s general approval rating is about 40 percent. That’s the lowest for any president in the polling era after one year on the job. It’s also Trump’s highest rating since May.

You can feel the restlessness, or at least you can if you read the op-ed pages or pay attention to academics. The article getting the most play is an Atlantic piece by Jonathan Rauch and Benjamin Wittes, two political centrists who reason that Republicans should vote for Democrats in the November midterms in order to neuter Trump. They sum up their reasoning with, what else, a syllogism:

(1) The GOP has become the party of Trumpism.
( 2) Trumpism is a threat to democratic values and the rule of law.
(3) The Republican Party is a threat to democratic values and the rule of law.

This is, as they say, tough but fair.

At the same time, though, polls show the generic Democratic lead in the 2018 midterms actually slipping. It was up to 13. Now it’s about half that.

And yet, Democrats just flipped another state legislative seat, this one in Missouri, in a district Trump won by 28 points. It’s the 10th state since Trump’s election in which Trump-carried districts have gone Democratic.

If you’re confused, that’s because there’s no reason not to be. Let’s say you’re a Republican, but not the kind who spends his evenings watching Fox. But what you do watch is Republican leadership going all in for Trump. You see Orrin Hatch saying that Trump could be the greatest president ever. Do you laugh or do you wonder? And there’s Paul Ryan, who keeps insisting, like the Kevin Bacon character in Animal House, that all is well. And when you’re told the model dissenter is Cory Gardner, who got all those plaudits for taking a stand on pot — an issue about which Trump doesn’t care a whit — of course you’re confused.

It has been said enough that these Republicans made their Faustian deal with Trump — if you get us tax cuts for rich people and pretend it’s a tax cut for the middle class, we won’t insist that you’re a madman demagogue who threatens all small-d democratic norms. We know how this deal turned out. While standing by Trump, they lost the Republican Party to him. They didn’t simply enable Trump, they enabled the takeover of their party by what Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson calls  “the lickspittle wing” of the party.

It was left, of course, to Jeff Flake to take on his fellow Senate Republicans. We know Flake’s story. He reviles everything Trump stands for and yet, as a conservative Republican, votes for nearly everything Trump proposes. Of course, Flake is not exactly calling for rebellion. Just a plea for decency. And so he goes on the Senate floor to say, decently enough, that “treason is not a punchline.”

“If we are numb to such words,” Flake says, “we will surely regret that we failed to defend our colleagues in the Congress against such a vile remark, but our silence will also mark the day that we failed to recognize that this conduct in an American president simply is not normal.”

Trump, of course, is not normal. But what about the cynical lickspittles? How normal are they? Let’s face it, they are the real deplorables. There’d be no 90 percent in the Gallup poll without them.

You’d like to think that, someday, history will hold them to account. But here’s the bad news: What if history doesn’t show up by November?

Flickr photo by Jussi Ollila

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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

6 Comments

  1. Jay on said:

    Considering that Comrade Trump is still the least popular president* in modern history, these cultish Republican polling numbers only reinforce the notion that Independents are largely not on board The Chump Choo Choo.

  2. Don Lopez on said:

    Elections have consequences.

    “Hiding news that doesn’t fit an ideological or a partisan agenda is perhaps the worst form of media bias. And it’s one more reason the public holds the press is such low esteem.” – Investor’s Business Daily

    “(Mr. Trump) won’t be president. He was sliding in the polls before the video, and the video now means that he has no way to climb back. Which independent voter, which suburban woman, which Main Street Republican on the fence is going to vote for Trump now?” – Mike Littwin

    Magical thinking: The belief that one’s own thoughts, wishes, or desires can influence the external world. It is common in very young children. – Radiotherapy

    #droptheMike

    }{

    Another very good column!

    It’s one more reason to believe Mr. Littwin may be edging (albeit slowly) towards even-handedness.

    While he still doesn’t enthusiastically embrace uncomfortable facts he at least no longer aggressively ignores them. And while it could all end tomorrow for today it’s noteworthy.

    For example:

    – “the economy is basically good”

    – “According to the latest Gallup poll, Trump’s job approval among Republicans is — wait for it — 90 freaking percent. In political terms, that’s pretty close to unanimous. Over Obama’s term, he averaged 83 percent among Democrats. Reagan was 83 percent among Republicans.”

    – “At the same time, though, polls show the generic Democratic lead in the 2018 midterms actually slipping. It was up to 13. Now it’s about half that.”

    The Atlantic article by Jonathan Rauch and Benjamin Wittes that Mr. Littwin references is, to say the least, conflicted. For example, in encouraging Republicans to vote for Democrats the authors admit they are “behaving like dumb-ass partisans.”

    The authors also admit, “We agree with many traditional GOP positions.”

    The authors’ syllogism reads more like a silly-gism especially this “ Trumpism is a threat to democratic values and the rule of law.”

    Of course that over-the-top observation pales in comparison to this from Mr. Littwin, “What does matter, and what I’m arguing, is that Trump’s presidency is a danger to the country and to the world and that to pretend otherwise is to be a part of that danger.”

    It’s gonna be hard to top that one!

    And according to Mr. Littwin, “Trump’s general approval rating is about 40 percent. That’s the lowest for any president in the polling era after one year on the job. ”

    That conflicts directly with this from Newsweek, “President Donald Trump and his predecessor, Barack Obama, have at least one thing in common: identical approval and disapproval ratings in one national poll after their first year in office.”

    You could look it up.

    November 08, 2016
    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner
    Flags of Valor
    Folds of Honor
    Special Operations Warriors Foundation

  3. Jay on said:

    Borrowed Valor:

    The close cousin to Stolen Valor, in which a soldier who no longer deserves the respect and honor due the service because of dishonorable beliefs and/or behavior, attempts to co-opt said respect and honor by trying to associate themselves with the brave men and women who have and continue to honorably represent their service and country.

    You, Comrade Don, are guilty of Borrowed Valor for your sedition. As I’ve said in the past, you don’t get to support Putin and Trump and pretend that you still honor your oath.

  4. Don Lopez on said:

    Jay-bird,

    In the words of the renowned George Carlin, “Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.”

    2016 Electoral College Results

    President Trump 306
    Hillary Clinton 232

    This ain’t no popularity contest.

  5. Jay on said:

    Yes, now apparently you’re starting to see the problem, Comrade Don. With Russia’s help, one of their agents posing as a politician was able to exploit a weakness in our electoral system for the first time in modern history to get “elected” by a minority of voters*. Your support for this treasonous act is why you are no longer able to wear the colors with honor not to mention why Mueller is about to take a giant dump on Trump and the complicit members of the Republican party.

    *Remember that even though W also lost the popular vote (how’d that work out for us) he was appointed by the conservative members of the Supreme Court.

    Now that you’re once again showing your belly, why don’t we work on the myths of trickle down economics and wmds in Iraq.

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