Thursday, April 27, 2017

Immutable Values


My upcoming newspaper column:
Donald Trump used to love polls. There’s a recent one he might have liked, though it received little attention. Comparing views of Democrats and Republicans on Trump bombing Syria, and how they differed from four years ago under President Obama, it found that in 2013, 38% of Democrats supported the idea. Now the number is 37%. In 2013 22% of Republicans favored it. This time around, it’s 86%. That’s as revelatory as it is unsurprising. One party had consistent values, another didn’t. For Trump, that’s good news, and affirming.  
There’s nothing Trump can do or do not that will diminish support among those who see wonderfulness in him. Failures? He tried. Michele Bachmann (among others) still believes Jesus put him in the White House. Jesus, who bade us to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, who warned about rich men, camels, and needles, and had a thing about healing the sick, gave us a president who’d ignore the needy while taking away their health care and enriching the wealthy. Jesus was silent on coal sludge in our streams and lead in our pipes, but I’m guessing He’d have been against them. Also, praising despots. Trump’s His boy? Not buying it.  
I send my columns in before Saturday, but I’ll predict that today, Trump’s hundredth in office -- a benchmark he repeatedly touted and by which time he promised big things during the campaign but has, like most of his assertions, recently disavowed -- Obamacare hasn’t been repealed and replaced, ISIS hasn’t been defeated, a budget agreement hasn’t been reached, tax overhaul hasn’t happened, and the wall isn’t under construction. Or funded.  
You’d think these reversals would be of concern to his supporters. They aren’t. You’d think there’d be second thoughts among those who voted for a naïf who only now discovered health care is complicated, relations between China and North Korea are fraught, NATO is indispensable, the Import-Export Bank does good, China stopped being a currency manipulator (Trump claims they stopped when he got elected. It ended at least two years earlier.) That each of these represents a one-hundred-eighty-degree flop ought to give Trumpists pause. Likewise, that Angela Merkel had to tell him eleven times how the EU works.  
It hasn’t. To them, it means he’s flexible. Their votes for a person who opines on subjects about which he knows nothing, makes up facts, lies repeatedly about impossible plans, changes his tune after talking to China’s Xi for a mere ten minutes, are of no concern. No worry about who he’ll spend the next ten minutes with, to arrive at what epiphany. “No one knew flying was hard,” said the pilot. “No prahhhhblemmmmmm,” said the passengers, all the way down.  
Recently, a letter here complained about jokes at Trump’s expense. What if it were Obama, the writer asked. Fair enough: who can explain humor? But could that writer or any Trump apologists say they’d have had no problem were it Barack Obama whose people had shady Russia connections, lied about them, and the lies were covered up? What if he’d promised not to golf and then did, at record-breaking pace? Would they have been okay with blatant conflicts of interest, lining his pockets with taxpayer money at various businesses? They hated President Obama’s use of executive orders. Not Trump’s. Or his projected trillions in budget deficits. Aren’t core values sort of immutable?  
With rare exceptions, Trumpophiles email me with linguistically colorful avoidance of issues. I offer to engage, curious why they’re okay with reversing pollution regulations, auto emission standards, workplace protections, cutting medical research, and childcare for working moms. I ask which of Trump’s actions have helped anyone but corporatists. No replies. It’s puzzling.  
In Donald Trump I see a man who blames others for his failures, a perpetual liar who’s admitted he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, hasn’t fulfilled any important promises, whose idea of foreign policy is dropping explosives, literal and vocal. I see someone unable to form intelligible sentences, stick to a topic or avoid gasconade from capital letter to period; who has no appreciation of the Constitution; who’s more interested in ratings than reality, who wastes valuable time holding pretentious rallies for himself. 
His people love it.

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