Those of us who rightly view Trump’s first 70 days as an unmitigated disaster would prefer not to ridicule our bedazzled fellow citizens. Surely we’d like to believe that they have rational, empirical reasons for defending a guy who’s dismissed, by prominent conservative commentator Michael Gerson, as “empty, easily distracted, vindictive, shallow, impatient, incompetent and morally small.”
Alas, the six Trump voters who met with CNN the other day are implacable. Trump is “governing” for his base — the 35 percent — and there’s no way he’s going down unless a sizeable chunk of the base abandons him. And if these six people typify his base, it ain’t happening any time soon. We might as well parse their thinking, even if it’s inexplicable. I’ll start with a few appetizers before I serve the main course.
A guy named Pax Hart said that the mood in America has improved since Trump took over: “It’s this very intangible kind of sense of – forget about all the noise, forget about the Russia … If you kind of tune all that out, there is just this very quiet restoration of law and order and security.”
OK, that was the sole reference to the Trump-Russia scandal. From anybody. Call me crazy, but the argument that everything is great on the domestic security front if only we’d “forget about the Russia” seems like a stretch. It’s like saying that if you forget the cockroach in your salad, it tastes really great.
Meanwhile, Sara Marie Brenner said, “The last 70 days have been positive. We’ve started to learn a lot more things. Just how the process works in Washington. The fact that [Trumpcare] failed shows that business and politics are not always the same thing. ‘Cause if they were, that deal might’ve gotten done and gotten done a lot more quickly. So maybe what that tells us is, politics has got to change.”
OK, I have no idea what she’s talking about. She appeared to be saying that Trump is a businessman who pushed Trumpcare as a business proposition, and that it failed only because the politicians blocked it. But if Trumpcare was such a great business pitch, why did only 17 percent of the public support it? And isn’t Trump supposed to be a brilliant dealmaker?
In any event, Toni Ann DeBartolo doesn’t think the crash of Trumpcare is a big deal: “That will go up again and they’ll have to adjust it a little bit.” Adjust what? Who’s “they?” What’s “a little bit”?
Josh Youssef pitched in with praise for Trump’s alleged dealmaking skills: “Business people and negotiators are by nature people that bring opposing parties and different people and factions together, and that’s what he has attempted to do.” CNN host Alisyn Camerota asked, “But why wasn’t he able to close the deal [on Trumpcare]?” Youssef replied, “Because politicians are dividers. If you are talking to an empty chair, I mean, what divider — there’s nothing you can — there’s no bridge across this gulf.”
OK, I’ll try to parse that. Josh seems to have overlooked Trump’s long track record as a divider, nor does Josh address the possibility that a guy from the real estate world has no idea how to navigate the politics of Washington. Which have been a permanent feature of the Nation’s Capital since 1789.
Pax Hart also praised Trump’s travel ban as “fantastic.” When Camorata pointed out that both attempted Muslim bans have been rebuked by the courts, Hart simply insisted: “It’s in place.” (No. It isn’t.)
But the most revealing episode came late in the session, when Billy Baer brought up Trump’s preposterous claim that he was victimized in 2016 by massive voter fraud. There’s no evidence whatsoever, but Baer believes it. There’s no evidence whatsoever that busloads of Massachusetts voters flooded across the border to vote in Baer’s state of New Hampshire, but he believes it anyway. So does one of his buddies.
Read on, because this is where things got really weird. These guys make us pine for the articulate candor of Kellyanne Conway.
Baer: “[Trump] got elected. And we don’t know how, as far as the votes and fraud and everything else — my assumption is that he probably would have gotten elected by a higher number than what the results actually showed.” Camerota: “Are you saying that you believe that there were three million to five million illegals who voted?” Baer: “Well, I know that in New Hampshire I’ve seen it. I’ve seen busloads of people … busloads of people coming in, whether they’re illegal, meaning they came into the country illegally, or they’re illegal voters, they came over from Massachusetts into New Hampshire -“
Camerota: “Just to be clear, you saw with your own eyes busloads and busloads of people coming from somewhere into New Hampshire to vote? You saw that?” Baer: “Well, I know Josh has seen it, yeah, and I’ve seen it too.” Camerota: “Josh, did you see busloads of people coming in from somewhere else?” Youssef: “I wouldn’t characterize it as busloads and busloads, but I have seen, um, cars coming in from out of state that are full from — with out-of-state plates. I live right across the street from the polling place in my ward. It’s noteworthy to consider when eight or 10 people get out of two or three cars.” Camerota: “And you think people from Massachusetts are driving across the border to vote in your ward?” Youssef: “I believe that’s the case, yeah. Whether it’s Massachusetts or Maine or some other state, there are people coming across, and it’s not fair to wholesale characterize it as voter fraud because maybe they’re borrowing their, I mean —” Camerota (to Baer): “Bill, you sticking with that? You have seen busloads, or no?” Baer: “I have seen busloads. Yeah, I guess I can’t cite the busloads that I have seen and where I’ve seen them, on television I’ve seen them – “
First it was busloads, then it was carloads, then it maybe wasn’t voter fraud, then it was something seen on television … This is the mindset that’s keeping Trump afloat. Sigh.
We might as well give Paulie DiBartolo the last word: “I don’t know if you have read his book ‘The Art of the Deal,’ but I have read it before. He goes into things long-term. He’s not a short-term guy. He is willing to stick in the game for 10 years to get things done.”
Somebody please tell Paulie that Trump only gets a maximum of eight.