January 29, 2017
By R.B. Scott
In recent days, some journalists and bloggers have posited that Democrats and the liberal “tone deaf” media are to blame for the ascendancy of Donald Trump. They claim that absurd partisan charges in 2008 that the GOP’s leading candidate, W. Mitt Romney, was a racist, misogynist, liar, bigot, and religious zealot set the stage Trump’s brazen and stunning coup d'état, first of the party, then of the nation.
For the record, Republican fratricide was at least partially to blame.
Recall the fatal decision by Senator John McCain, the GOP presidential nominee in 2008, to select Sarah Palin as his running mate. Or, how McCain and Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee ganged up on Romney in 2008 West Virginia primary. Remember fellow Mormon Jon Huntsman's betrayal. And, let's not discount Romney’s own reluctance to duke it out at 2008 convention; or his exaggerations, distortions and expedient opinion “adjustments” in 2008 and 2012; or his team’s pointless and poorly-managed efforts to control media access. Accusing fingers could also be pointed at GOP's malingering wariness and halting doublespeak about Mitt's Mormonism.
This is just an abridged brief of how GOP undermined its most viable leader in 2008 and 2012. It explains why the remarkably resilient Romney passed up the chance to squash the bombastic Trump in the 2016 New Hampshire primary. Polls forecast a double-digit victory for non-candidate Romney that surely would have sent Trump home to his Fifth Avenue palace instead of on to Pennsylvania Avenue.
Australian journalist Joe Hildebrand sees the Trump victory as validation of the twisted if simple political aphorism: winning is all that matters.
“On November 8, 2016, around 63 million Americans …felt so angry, so abandoned by the system, that they were prepared to vote for anyone who promised to tear it down.
“But,” protested the establishment, “he’s a vulgar, sexist, racist, uncouth, billionaire reality TV star!”
So what?” they said.
Here’s the rub. About 3 million more Americans – roughly 66 million in all – were so horrified by the prospect of a confessed "pussy"-grabber and pathological liar occupying the most powerful office in the world that they cheerfully, or begrudgingly, cast votes for Hillary Rodham Clinton. No question Trump won fair and square (Perhaps it's time to revise how electors to the Electoral College are chosen). Nevertheless, it is not at all surprising that the not-so-silent-majority don’t like him one little bit! Their unprecedented in-your-face resistance was envisioned and encouraged by the founders of the nation, and protected the constitution. God bless America.
Trump's popular vote loss, his plummeting “favorability” ratings, and clear indications that most Americans aren’t exactly enthusiastic about his pledges to abruptly end Obamacare, or of his harebrained plan to erect a wall along the border with Mexico. They question the legality of his bombastic promises tighten immigration rules suggest by denying entry to Muslims. Taken together, they promise more serious disruption ahead.
A recent poll of more than a thousand registered voters suggests:
- that 53 percent oppose building the wall if taxpayers have to foot the bill
- About 45 percent support Obamacare and 61% would prefer Congress to keep the Affordable Care Act and simply fix parts that aren't working.
-59% of voters think Trump needs to release his tax returns and 54% of voters would support a law requiring candidates for President to release 5 years of tax returns in order to appear on the ballot (some seer
-61% of voters think Trump needs to fully divest from his business interests. Continued stonewalling could lead to very serious problems.
-Voters think he will the worst president since Richard Nixon who resigned in disgrace.
These aren’t healthy numbers for a President who was sworn-in just a week ago. Such polling data fly in the face of claims, like this one from the Australian journalist: “Unfortunately many in the American left and liberal media still seem wholly incapable of seeing what drove Donald Trump to power and are thus hopelessly ill-equipped to remove him from it.”
Blaming the media is trite and condescending. It implies that Americans are so stupid they are incapable of pouring piss out of a boot even when the directions were printed on its heel. Mainstream publications like The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and, Time sensed revolution way back in primaries. They reported on “Feel- The- Bern Sanders” and his supporters like “Screaming” Howard Dean, his brother Jim, and the stridently progressive political committee, Democracy For America. They also warned that despite her formidable vitae, Hillary Clinton was not popular.
Their prescient musings that it was the GOP’s turn to rule in 2016, perhaps provoked Romney, Paul Ryan, Jeb Bush, and Lindsay Graham to vocalize their opposition to Trump. Unfortunately, none had the courage to do much more than nervously fondle their worry beads and fret. That few of them expected Trump to prevail in the General explains why they didn’t object vociferously to FBI Director James Comey’s shameless political shenanigans in July and again in late October.
Trump’s many blatantly false statements about the crowd size at the inauguration and ease spinning bald-faced lies are taking their toll. Notice his tumbling favorability ratings and increasing resistance from GOP congressmen and senators.
Eventually his obviously pathological dishonesty could lead to lying under oath. Nixon wasn’t sent packing because he “authorized” Watergate. His fatal flaws were the cover-up and attendant lying. Ditto Bill Clinton’s impeachment. Right now Donald Trump is being deposed hourly by the media. When the time comes – as it surely will – these incriminating published depositions will speak loudly, never mind Trump's incessant tweets.
It is exhausting to keep up with up with Trump’s outrageous lies and troubling delusions. Of greater concern, as the Australian pundit acknowledged, that Trump may not even know that he’s lying. “As the great George Costanza has taught us: It’s not a lie if you believe it.”
Trump, like Nixon, underestimates the collective power and dogged persistence of mainstream media, especially when provoked. It is The Fourth Estate’s constitutional obligation to expose leaders who become unfit for office, even ones who were very popular. Despite the unfolding Watergate scandal that would eventually cost him the presidency, Nixon’s landslide reelection 1972 over George McGovern was unprecedented. He carried every state but Massachusetts. Many Europeans, and some Americans too, thought the media’s pursuit of a capable world leader like Nixon was silly, unnecessary and highly partisan
If the presidential election and governing were a game, Trump might be winning temporarily. But the rules of this game were not written by him, nor does he have the power to amend them much. Like Nixon, Trump has his enemies list. He routinely refers to the "lying media" as the most dishonest people on earth. Through single-minded surrogates like Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon he commands the media to “shut up and listen.”
Editorial outrage usually leads to reportorial perseverance. Inevitably, the increasingly hot pursuit of Trump will bring about change in his behavior or lead to a new White House occupant. Along the way, perhaps Republicans and Democrats alike will finally divine how he got there in the first place.