Control Yourself, Mr. President -- If You Can
I’ve often wondered what it would take for die-hard supporters of President Trump to say, “That’s it, I’ve had enough” and abandon the man who they so admire. And the fact is, I can’t think of anything.
And by “anything” I mean … ANYTHING!
Could he really shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in New York and not lose the support of his biggest fans? I’m convinced he could. Literally!
How about if he reaches the point where he’s had enough of what he calls fake news, and slaps Jim Acosta in the puss at a nationally televised news conference? What would his loyal supporters do then? They’d give him a medal, that’s what they’d do.
What if there’s some really nasty stuff in those tax returns he won’t make public? What if he made some unsavory business deals with the Russians? Would that bring condemnation to the president? From Democrats it would; from Republicans it would produce a yawn or maybe some cheers for sticking it to the IRS.
While Democrats loathe this president, Republicans adore him -- despite (or maybe because of) the non-stop turmoil he’s created from the day he took office. A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows that 88 percent of Republicans “approve of the job Donald Trump is doing as president.” (In total, 45 percent of voters approve of the president’s job while 52 percent disapprove.)
As William Galston writes in a Wall Street Journal column under the headline, “Why Republicans Can’t Get Enough of Trump” … “It is thrilling to have a leader who not only promotes your interests but also validates your passions.” Donald Trump is good at validating passions, especially of those who have long felt alienated and despise the cultural elite as much as their hero, the president, seems to.
But while Mr. Trump may bask in the applause he receives at his campaign style rallies, from fans whose passions he knows how to validate, if he thinks his party can retain control of Congress in the midterm elections with a “base-only” strategy, he’s whistling past the proverbial graveyard.
And this is where the bad news for Republicans comes in. That same poll showed that the president’s job approval, while sky high among GOP voters, stands at only 40 percent among independents. Fifty-eight percent of independents disapprove of the job he’s doing, with 46 percent “strongly” disapproving.
I’ve long thought that fans that comprise Mr. Trump’s base are like enablers who keep a friend’s addiction going, even though that’s not their intention. Donald Trump’s addiction is to applause and flattery. They’re the air he breathes. And at those rallies, his loyal base gives him what he needs. They fool him into thinking he’s more popular than he really is.
Yes, the president deserves a lot of credit for how well the economy is doing. And a strong economy is critical for the chances of the GOP in November. But a president’s popularity is also important in midterm elections. And so, if Donald Trump doesn’t turn things around with those independents, if he doesn’t stop behaving in ways they don’t like, then he -- more than the so-called fake news, more than the Democratic resistance, more than the progressives who think he’s Hitler – will be responsible for Nancy Pelosi once again becoming Speaker of the House.
And however she personally feels about impeachment, the progressive wing of her party along with it’s growing left-wing base, will make enough noise to demand endless investigations into every aspect of the president’s life. And sooner or later, she may have to allow a House vote on impeachment, no matter what she thinks of its political wisdom.
Memo to POTUS: Your base loves you. They won’t leave you. You can count on their support. Stop going to rallies where they would coronate you if they could. Pay attention to those who aren’t crazy about you. To those who voted for you two years ago but aren’t so sure anymore. You’ve done a lot to alienate them. It’s not too late to win them back. But you have to convince them you’re not the danger that Democrats say you are. If you want to avoid disaster for your party this November, stop the impulsive comments and tweets that only get you in trouble. Knock off the nonstop, needless and petty provocations that turn away potential allies. Control yourself. That is, if you can.