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Assault on America, Day 236: Media knocks Trump’s manner but America is tone-deaf

Trump New Hampshire Rally
School bells ring across the country today (if they haven’t rung already) as kids return from their long summer break to once again begin the work of immersing themselves in the three R’s (reading, writing and arithmetic to you memory-challenged folks).

Education -- and what should be taught as opposed to what is being taught -- is a subject for another time.

With America’s pupils heading back to the classroom perhaps it’s proper to do a little review of our own. With President Donald Trump’s approval ratings in a perpetual state of hold, some conservatives worry they won’t reach historical minimum thresholds for presidential reelections. Particularly troubling was a recent Fox News poll which showed Trump’s negatives shot up (by five points) and his positives dropped (by three) in the last month.

In other words, it appears people who’ve always supported Trump continue to back him while those who’ve rejected him are just as intractable, with a small but mushy “center” that ebbs and flows with the tide of politics and news from month-to-month. Trump’s no doubt gained quite a bit in Republican circles -- at least since the earliest days of his candidacy -- with party faithful favoring him by nearly nine-out-of-ten.

But Democrats and independents are a different story. Why the lasting impasse?

Some still think Trump’s “tone” is costing him with the shrinking persuadable lot. Cal Thomas wrote at The Washington Times, “In [his recent New Hampshire speech] Mr. Trump took a ‘vote for me, even if you hate me, because the Democrats will ruin the economy’ approach. While that may be true, there are intangibles that also influence voters, including how America positions itself before the world. There is no question that President Trump is pushing back against liberalism, socialism and the notion that Democrats must always set the agenda and Republicans are left to respond to it. That is what has solidified uncritical support among his base.

“But — and this is a very big but — there is also the issue of deportment, something taught at home and in school when I was a child. Manners, character, honesty, consistency and how others see you were also traits thought important to instill in young men and women.

“Is the economy all that matters? Have we become that cynical? Perhaps some of his uncritical evangelical supporters might point to a verse which says, ‘The love of money is the root of all evil.’ (1 Timothy 6:10), or ‘Whoever loves money never has enough.’ (Ecclesiastes 5:10).”

Far be it from me to question the wisdom of the Bible, but the second passage doesn’t seem to be true in practice. Plenty of people love money -- particularly in the upper echelons of earners -- yet the bleeding-heart liberals among them argue they have too much. Therefore, they reason, tax rates must be raised in order to level the proverbial societal playing field -- as though the government spends money responsibly and wisely and they don’t.

At the same time, no one’s cutting checks to directly donate to the federal treasury. What a collection of hypocrites. If George Soros, the tech barons, Tom Steyer and their ilk truly think rich people don’t pay enough, they can always forfeit their money. But none ever do. The same goes for stupid Hollywood actors and producers who bathe in cash and pontificate and lecture as though being able to recite lines in front of a camera qualifies them to champion elitist causes and influence policy effecting everyone. They’re the last ones who should talk.

To answer Thomas’s main question -- no, the economy is not all that matters. While it’s true Trump centers his campaign rally speeches on the warm and fuzzy economic numbers, it’s only a medium-sized part of his overall pitch. In those appearances Trump plays several roles simultaneously -- president, statesman, lecturer (providing evidentiary support for his arguments) and perhaps most importantly, entertainer and/or showman.

America’s previous “entertainer in chief” was Ronald Reagan. Trump’s the heir apparent in the “worth watching” category. It’s why Trump draws viewers from all sides of the ideological spectrum. Similar to the 1980’s Boston Celtics or today’s New England Patriots, he’s the one his enemies love to hate. And they can’t switch him off no matter how revolted they are by him.

At his “performances” Trump dedicates time to defining his opposition, frequently highlighting bogeymen (and bogeywomen) like the Democrats’ “Squad” for special critiques. Then he talks about policies and what his administration is doing to improve the lives of Americans. Then the president underscores the big themes of his reelection campaign, particularly immigration. If it wasn’t clear four years ago -- or eight, sixteen, twenty-four, etc. -- the situation at the southern border pretty much defines where we are today as a country.

The fact the political class has allowed illegal immigration to fester and grow over the years only enhances Trump’s claim to legitimacy. Regardless of the stalemate in Congress with Democrats refusing to support measures to stem the flow (no wall!) or deal with the aliens once they’ve successfully “invaded” U.S. territory, Trump’s used executive powers to actually do something about the issue.

Trump’s appeal is therefore much wider than just the economy. Together with his well-documented promotion of American trade and military strength abroad (not necessarily troop and naval deployments), his is a very traditional Republican message packaged in populist verbiage and imagery. In the eighties it was often said Ronald Reagan made it “cool” to like America again (after the Nixon era and one disastrous term of Mr. Malaise, Jimmy Carter). Trump offers a similar effect. His backers enjoy the energy from his rallies almost as much as he does.

If not, why would people bother watching at home? Whenever Trump holds an event it’s like an entire evening’s worth of “free” programming for cable news channels that choose to show it.

For all but the most politically sensitive, Trump’s “tone” really has nothing to do with his appeal. Much media focus is devoted to Trump’s personality and mannerisms -- but what about the Democrats? Can it be viewed as a positive when presidential candidates like Cory Booker and “Beto” O’Rourke unapologetically label their president a racist? Or when Nancy Pelosi says Trump belongs in prison… or Maxine Waters implores Democrats to seek out Trump supporters in public and verbally assault them (if not worse)… what does the public think about these things?

Or the fact the Mueller investigation was a complete farce instigated and promulgated by the Clinton campaign’s “Russia! Russia! Russia!” hysteria and executed by the deep state deviants in the Obama administration? Does the silent “tone” of witch hunts and assessment of guilty-unless-proven-innocent judgements make a difference with people? The media’s made a mockery of the whole thing -- the New York Times even admitted it was relying on the Russia-gate misadventure to bring down Trump.

Trump’s right in one sense -- people might not love him but they’ll still choose him because they don’t love the other side either. The negative “tone” pervades American politics -- it isn’t just one person or one party.

Besides, there’s ample evidence Trump is gaining ground with vital Democrat constituencies as well. David Catron wrote at The American Spectator, “A mounting number of voter polls show that, despite shrill denunciations of the president by the Democrats for his alleged racism, Trump is enjoying a dramatic increase in his approval ratings among minorities. This isn’t, as some liberal news outlets and pundits have suggested, wishful thinking based on outlier polls. The trend began showing up in surveys early this year and appears to be gaining momentum. Some polls now show his approval numbers at 25 percent among African American voters and 50 percent among Hispanic voters. If those figures hold for the next 15 months, they will render Trump unbeatable in November of 2020...

“Why would Hispanic and African American voters support the president if he is a rabid racist, red in tooth and claw? It may be that they have heard such accusations leveled at so many Republicans, without any evidence, that many are no longer listening...

“[T]he days when Democrats could win all of their votes by screeching ‘racism,’ encouraging illegal immigration, and offering massive giveaway programs are probably over. President Trump appears to be building real support among minorities by providing genuine opportunity in a thriving economy.”

It’s true. Catron cites several polls showing minority groups warming to Trump in respectable numbers. The improved feelings don’t appear to be showing up in national opinion surveys, however, which begs the question -- if 90 percent of Republicans love Trump and significantly larger groups of traditional Democrat voters like his job performance too, why isn’t his approval rate much higher than it is?

Are pollsters inadequately weighting their samples? How the heck is margin of error calculated?

The GOP did get swamped in the 2018 vote (at least in the House), likely because Trump himself wasn’t on the ballot. Will 2020 reflect what polls are saying now, that black and Hispanic voters will go for him in moderately higher percentages than in 2016? If so, Trump’s reelection prospects look pretty darn good.

And the media’s “tone” paranoia doesn’t carry weight.

As long as Donald Trump remains president -- and probably long after he’s left the White House -- debate will continue on whether his “tone” is costing him and the GOP voter goodwill and support. Plenty of evidence shows the polls are wrong; we won’t find out for sure until Election Day 2020.

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