President Donald Trump’s character has been under nonstop attack since he first appeared on the national stage in the 1980s. Yet somehow people still seem to think this is an effective tactic in an attempt to either change him, take him down, or turn off his supporters. It’s not going to work.
When porn star Stormy Daniels emerged with allegations of a tryst with Trump in 2006, Trump supporters yawned. They didn’t deny the possibility, or even the probability, they simply didn’t care. Not because half the American people suddenly decided infidelity is a good thing, or even an indifferent thing, but because Donald Trump wasn’t elected the nation’s husband, he was elected President of the United States.
A good chunk of the 90s were spent arguing over this very thing – does legal but morally repugnant private conduct matter more than public behavior? The answer then was an unambiguous “no.” Putting aside what is unquestioningly a denigration of our culture and civil society, that the answer remains a resounding no today should surprise no one.
But the complaints about Trump’s character don’t stop at his actions in his personal life, they’ve bled into his actions and words as President.
One writer declared, “Trump’s refusal to listen to advisers, his inability to bite his tongue, his demonization and belittling of senators who vote for his agenda but refuse to keep quiet when he does or says things they disagree with, his rants against the First Amendment, his praise for dictators and insults for allies, his need to create new controversies to eclipse old ones, and his inexhaustible capacity to lie and fabricate history: All of this springs from his character.”
These have also largely fallen flat for the same reason his past personal conduct, both admitted (in his first 2 marriages) and denied, did – words aren’t actions. If Trump acted to limit freedom of the press, for example, that would be one thing. But complaining about CNN is hardly setting up a Gulag. If saying nice things about Kim Jong-Un translated into adopting hereditary, absolute power, rather than a plausible diplomatic tactic, then again, sure.
Lying is never good, but it’s also the currency of politicians. Not to excuse it, because I don’t, but exaggeration and falsehoods weren’t created on January 20, 2017. Just because the media embraced a hair-trigger, hyper-sensitive breathlessness in their reporting of the concept after 8 years of uninterrupted slumber does not mean people care.
That’s really what it boils down to – Trump supporters don’t care. None of the untruths, to whatever degree, aren’t important enough to matter. This is largely due to overkill. Liberal journalists are all too happy to “fact check” everything the President says, no matter how insignificant, as if flooding the zone will somehow bring about a critical mass that turns off support. What it really does is drown out all of it, and the petty nature of most of it leads the larger issues to be dismissed as well. Trump declaring he won the Electoral College in a historic landslide isn’t important to anyone, it’s the equivalent of stretching the size of a fish you caught. Yet it’s presented alongside other substantive falsehoods as if it’s the same as saying, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” It’s not, by a longshot.
That’s the difference between critics and haters. Critics, whether you agree with them or not, are generally justified in their criticisms, which tend to be based on specific policy or even style differences. Haters will be unsatisfied and angry even as someone accomplishes things they’d sworn they supported because of who is accomplishing them. It’s irrational. There is so much personal hatred of Donald Trump for existing in a way the old order doesn’t like, it’s become impossible and exhausting trying to separate out legitimate criticism from venomous ramblings. It’s like trying to blame which raindrops made you wet in a thunderstorm.
Mitt Romney, the failed 2012 GOP presidential nominee who will be sworn in as Utah’s junior Senator today, appears ready to ride his high horse right into the Senate. He’s attacking the President’s character now, after happily accepting his support during his election. “A president should demonstrate the essential qualities of honesty and integrity, and elevate the national discourse with comity and mutual respect,” Romney wrote.
He added, “With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable. And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring.”
Virtue signaling, Romney concluded, “I will speak out against significant statements or actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions.” It could have been lifted from any transcript from CNN or MSNBC, and will go a long way toward his elevation to the post of “the new John McCain.”
But people have heard all of this before, and have discounted it. Partisanship existed long before Trump, he didn’t invent it and his unhinged critics are the ones who’ve lost their collective minds. The President treats every critic the same, regardless of race (it’s up to you whether you think that’s a good thing or not), and the same goes for gender. There is nothing “anti-immigrant” about seeking to end illegal immigration, unless you equate the two. And if the First Amendment has any meaning, exercising your right to it does not diminish any else’s to do the same, even if it’s pointed toward them.
There’s plenty to dislike about Donald Trump the man, just as there’s plenty to dislike about everyone, if you spend all your time looking for it. Trump voters don’t, Trump critics do. And they do so while claiming his supporters are obsessed with him…without irony.
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