On Wild-Eyed Trump Critics

Henry Olsen writes that many critics seem to be 'gaslighting themselves,' a term I know from Tex's occasional use of it. I think that's right to a large degree: they're whipping themselves up in echo chambers on Twitter, and in societies for "Resistance" where their opinions are common to everyone. As a consequence they're reinforcing their own world view, which grows darker and more alarmed by the day. These growing fears are often unmoored from reality (See "Nazi" and "Boko Haram," immediately below).

I have been a frequent critic, through the campaign and to date. All the same, I have to say that -- on balance -- he is so far having a successful presidency. This is surprising given that he's been under serious investigation the entire time, and has run a White House and National Security Council that has been entirely too chaotic for its own good. His first Secretary of State was a disaster; his Attorney General, a source of grave disappointment even to Trump himself. All the same, he has managed to make good on strong tax cuts; a 'right to try' bill that lessens the Federal Government's sense of ownership of us even when we are in hours close to death; a gutting of many regulations, which combined with the tax cuts has spurred economic activity that President Obama thought would take 'a magic wand'; significant progress against ISIS; what looks like strong diplomatic moves on Iran and North Korea; he has obtained a number of concessions from China on economics; he has spurred a rethink of Turkey's drift into authoritarianism; he has, in short, had a few home runs and even more RBIs.

His rhetoric remains just as it always was, although some of his supporters think that is a large reason for his success. It may well be: it has been interesting watching him deploy his celebrity to smack down foes and build new alliances (e.g., the Kardashians; his pardon of a famous and mistreated black heavyweight fighter). His capacity to cause outrage frequently causes his opponents to lose the ball, running after this-or-that instead of remaining focused on opposing his policies. They have had successes in generating storms of outrage, but those do not necessarily translate into policy wins: the anti-NRA storm has not generated new Federal gun control, though it has generated many new NRA members; the current storm against border arrests may well reduce migration, just because it will send the opposing message to the one sent by the 'catch and release' policy, i.e., that bringing your kids not only won't get you automatic parole, it'll get you stress and difficulty. You may think, as many do, that stressing these families is immoral, but in effect all criminal legislation works that way. It is the fear of the penalty that makes the law effective.

As Olsen says:
Some Americans have been so disaffected by economic changes of the last decade that they see Trump’s enthusiastic embrace of American jobs for American workers as a breath of fresh air. Others find his staunch support of American security as reassuring. Trump’s proposed Muslim ban enrages many of his opponents, but the polling data suggests that this more than any other proposal is what made him president.

Others might be less enthusiastic about Trump but have good reason to think he’s doing a good job. Religiously traditional people see themselves under siege from an elite culture that holds them in contempt and have chosen to embrace the devil that backs them over the devil who does not.

Still others, many of whom are traditional business or free market conservatives, remain wary of him personally but increasingly like his policies. Indeed, there are a number of polls that show Republicans who voted for Gary Johnson to be of this view. They might prefer someone without Trump’s flaws, but faced with the evidence of a man who hasn’t screwed up and who has implemented much of their agenda they seem willing to reconsider their prior anti-Trump views.
Olsen goes on to point out that this could all turn the other way, too, if things don't continue to go Trump's way. Trump needs to gain support, not merely to rely on his existing support. But he may well, should the economy continue to boom and ordinary Americans come to see him as someone who has made their lives better. "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" was a powerful campaign slogan once. It may well be again. That depends on it being a fact that most Americans really are better off than four years since. Still, they well might be.

I think the President is open to serious criticisms even yet, but you can't make them if instead you are yelling about fascism. Just this week a new NSC appointee was described in a press outlet as a "Neo-Nazi"; Google posted search results about the California Republican Party stating that their ideology was "Nazism." Both criticisms are both ridiculous and unserious. And if you are only raising unserious criticisms, you're missing the chance to stick the guy where he's open to being stuck. More, if ordinary Americans like him and you're not careful about this language, there's a risk that you'll accidentally end up rehabilitating Nazis.


Drudge provides an illustration of why some people are not so very unhappy with Donald J. Trump.

The response from critics was to complain that it was a "crime" for him to issue the information from the jobs report before it was released by the agency (which works for him). This is the kind of unhinged nonsense that is going to render criticism even of legitimate issues irrelevant. You want to jail the guy who brought us to record-low unemployment? Because he didn't follow D.C. protocol? C'mon.


E Hines said...

A bit OT: "Gaslight" from the movie Gaslight with Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer. Even someone who's not that into movies would do well to catch this one.

Eric Hines

E Hines said...

The response from critics was to complain that it was a "crime" for him to issue the information from the jobs report before it was released by the agency (which works for him).

What's even more unhinged about this is the hysteria of the outright lie. Trump didn't issue the jobs report before it was released. He merely tweeted that he was looking forward to its release.

Eric Hines

GraniteDad said...

“The Resistance” is their own worst enemy here. They keep going down this rabbit hole because they get distracted by something new about Trump. They actually could probably do a pretty good job of blocking him on specific things, if they could stop infighting and having a “woker-than-thou” competition every day.

I dislike Trump as a person, and he is in no way someone I would choose to be president. I didn’t vote for him. But these unhinged people making comments just drive more people into his camp. They are doing more to enact the Republican agenda than most White House staff, so I guess I should be thankful!

Dad29 said...

The current policy re: immigrant children is a COURT ORDER from the 9th Circuit, by the way. Obozo didn't bother with that, but Trump does.

Grim said...

Yes, I know. I was trying to explain this to a liberal friend (who tells me that we may no longer be friends over this issue). She had never heard of the court order, or of the court cases before it, or of the legal standard; neither was she convinced these legal fights going back decades could be important, because Trump.

See the post immediately below.

Sam L. said...

"The Resistance" is its own main enemy, and it/they are so obviously bug-eating nuts
to the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

Obama made a regular habit of reporting his evaluation of the coming jobs report in advance. And, there are video clips to prove it.


It is almost as if they think we have no memory.

I am beginning to wonder if DJT's big advantage over the entire media and the Democratic Party is his refusal to drink alcohol, coupled with a lifetime habit of reading. At 71, he's probably has cumulated a lot more lucid hours than these non thinkers, and he hasn't forgotten as much.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

Something to keep in mind in those states that have any libertarian vote. If even 10% of those who voted for Gary Johnson in NH had voted for Trump, he wins NH.

I think he wins way more than 10% of Gary Johnson's voters in 2020. I'm going to look into what other states that applies to. There are solidly Democratic states that are going to hate Trump even more. That will affect precisely nothing.

Those Rust Belt voters who switched to Trump could go away if he screws up by their definition. But right now I don't think he has lost many of his previous voters, and has very likely picked up some new ones.