Thanks to a largely self-inflicted wound, President Trump just had the worst week of his presidency—or so we are told by our political and media overlords. The post-2016 Perpetual Outrage Mob hasn’t been this lathered up since Charlottesville. Wait, maybe since “shithole” week. Or perhaps since the Kim Jong-un summit. Or since Scott Pruitt bought a used mattress. Take your pick.
The latest version of Trump’s Worst Week Ever began with demands that he cancel his planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 17 after the Justice Department conveniently recycled old news about the Russians hacking into some Democrats’ computers before the presidential election. When Trump didn’t bow to the bullies, they made him pay.
His unprepared and impetuous comments during a press conference with Putin sent his critics to Defcon 1. Accusations that Trump is a traitor to his country were swift and fierce. (The #TreasonSummit hashtag began trending on Twitter before the two leaders met, so it was clear what was coming.) Comparisons were made about how Russia’s lame and ineffective cyberattack was essentially the same as 9/11 and Pearl Harbor.
Trump haters on the Left exalted that HE’S REALLY DONE IT THIS TIME! and speculated that congressional Republicans might finally confront the president. Unfortunately, Trump gave oxygen to nearly vanquished foes, including disgraced ex-FBI Director James Comey—last seen pondering his future in an Iowa cornfield—and the insufferable Sally Yates, Trump’s acting attorney general who was in office just long enough to help set up Michael Flynn before Trump fired her. (Comey and Yates remain under congressional scrutiny for their conduct related to the government’s surveillance of Trump campaign associates.)
Obama’s CIA director, John Brennan, charged the president with “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper magically remembered that Trump was indeed briefed about Russian election interference during a security briefing in January 2017 and suggested that the Russians have dirt on Trump so that’s why he kisses up to Putin. (If this seditious overreaction somehow was supposed to counter Trump’s legitimate claims that the hyper-politicized leaders of the intelligence community are out to get him, it worked in reverse.)
NeverTrump Republicans, of course, seized the opportunity to bash the president. Mueller-fluffer Bill Kristol, whose obsession with the special counsel is almost as disturbing as his fixation on Donald Trump, offered up this ludicrous choice: Stand with Putin or Robert Mueller. His magazine urged Congress to censure the president. Deranged Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin demanded (again) that top administration officials resign in protest.
And the reliable corps of Trump-deploring Republican senators weighed in: John McCain (R-Ariz.) posted a lengthy screed on his official website to denounce the president, and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), a member of the Judiciary Committee who shamefully has been silent on the issue of DOJ/FBI corruption, sermonized about how wrong the president is on Russia and insisted he gave Putin “a win.”
Even after Trump backed off his remarks about the intelligence community—Fox News host Tucker Carlson called it a “hostage tape”—and the White House correctly pointed out that the Russian hacking occurred under the Obama Administration, the president’s enemies were not mollified. Fears that Trump would send Americans to the Russian gulag to appease Putin were openly expressed and rumors about a secret “deal” with the Russian leader were circulated. And the week ended with a bang: The New York Times reported the FBI has possession of a recorded call between Trump and Michael Cohen, his personal lawyer now under investigation, about a payoff to a Playboy model in 2016. (The payment wasn’t made.)
Normal Americans Aren’t Losing Their Heads
For those of us who follow politics closely, it was the familiar wash-rinse-repeat news cycle; but last week, it was on the highest spin setting. The Trump presidency is like a political version of the movie “Monsters, Inc.” where #TheResistance gets its energy from the shrieks and screams of childlike partisans who find a Trumpian orange cyclops under every bed. Their panic accumulates in social media and cable news storage tanks, unleashed whenever fuel is needed to torch the president, his administration, his family, or his voters.
But while the Trump-hating mob burns, America yawns. With better things to do—such as earn a living, raise children, vacation with family, or enjoy the sweet spot of the summer—most Americans ignored the latest foot-stomping tantrum. The political class’s preoccupation with Russia is not shared by the American public. And as we see time and time again, Republicans rally around their president when he is under siege by our political and ideological foes.
An Axios poll taken during the height of the hysteria last week stunned the punditry: While 100 percent of the professional commentariat viewed the Trump-Putin press conference as an unmitigated disaster, 80 percent of Republicans approved of it, as did 40 percent of the total respondents. When asked whether the probe into Trump-Russia collusion was serious or a distraction, 85 percent of Republicans said it was a distraction. Overall, registered voters were split on the legitimacy of an investigation that has consumed official Washington for nearly two years.
The Russia drama is barely a blip on the electorate’s radar screen. In a Reuters poll taken last week, Russia doesn’t make the list of top problems in the United States; only 4 percent of voters even mention foreign policy as a concern. The same results were found in a Gallup poll earlier this month; while respondents did not mention Russia as an issue, Gallup did report that economic optimism is at a 14-year high among Americans.
While the punditry claque railed about the “treasonous” relationship between Trump and Putin, Americans are not similarly convinced. In an Economist/YouGov poll taken last week, 40 percent of respondents said the relationship was a bad thing; 32 percent said it was a good thing for the country and 29 percent had no opinion. Voters were evenly divided on whether the meeting will have a negative, positive or no impact on U.S.-Russia relations.
Voters also don’t share the anti-Trump mob’s infatuation with Robert Mueller. Only 34 percent have a favorable view of the special counsel (among Republicans, the figure falls to just 15 percent) and his job approval rating is 37 percent; 44 percent of voters in that poll view the Mueller probe as a legitimate investigation.
And at a meeting of top Republican Party officials from across the country on Friday, there was no sign the rank-and-file are turning against the president. The efforts by one New Hampshire GOP committeewoman to pass a resolution clarifying the party’s stance on Russian meddling—similar to a resolution approved after Charlottesville—was ignored and criticized.
Let’s face it: The reason #TheResistance is so infuriated, so unstable, and so ridiculous is because they are still losing. Despite 20 months of non-stop hysteria, Trump is the president, a reality they refuse to accept. Each time the Trump-hating mob goes on another rampage, it seems to have the opposite effect: Republicans defend the president and most regular Americans tune out the noise, too busy or too weary to join the fray.
They never learn.
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