Donald Trump has a knack for making his most passionate supporters look foolish, and worse. They often come off as Trump toadies, sycophants who live only to bask in his majesty’s glow.
How, for example, can an intelligent conservative support Trump after he said this at the GOP presidential debate in South Carolina about President George W. Bush and his administration?
“Obviously, the war in Iraq was a big, fat mistake, all right? They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none, and they knew there were none.”
This is right out of the liberal Democratic playbook: Bush lied people died. Not that he made an honest mistake and got it wrong about weapons of mass destruction -- but that he knew there were no WMDs and still went to war, a war that resulted in thousands of American deaths.
You'd expect to hear that from Michael Moore or anyone else who suffers from Bush Derangement Syndrome – not from a Republican running for president.
The next day, Trump did what he so often does: He denied saying what he said -- despite the fact that he said it at a nationally televised presidential debate and there was video to prove what he said.
On Sunday, Chuck Todd pressed Trump on Meet the Press about his statement that the Bush administration “lied,” that “They said there were weapons of mass destruction” … and “they knew they were none.” And with a straight face, Trump said: “I didn’t call him a liar. … I said maybe there were lies. … Was it a lie, I don’t know if it’s a lie, who knows?”
This is smarmy at best. It obviously dawned on the man who routinely shoots from the lip that calling President Bush a liar in South Carolina, where he’s still quite popular, was probably not a smart thing to do. But instead of saying, “I shouldn’t have said that,” – Trump seems genetically incapable of saying “I made a mistake” – he said, “I didn’t call him a liar.”
And this is something that his most passionate supporters admire? Or just don’t care about?
Trump’s followers in the media are different from the civilians who adore him, many of whom like what they see as his toughness – his promise to round up and deport 11 million illegal aliens; his assurance that he would (temporarily) bar all Muslims from entering this country. But his pals in the media are just that – his pals. They acknowledge that they consider him a friend. They like being around him. And then they do pretend interviews with their pal that resemble Valentine’s Day cards.
One of those friends is someone named Eric Bolling, a host on the Fox News Channel, who said this on TV on the day of the South Carolina debate:
“As you know I’ve never liked what the establishment class represents. I often talk about how they’re almost as bad as the liberals running DC, just more whiney about stuff. That usually elicits hate tweet, columns written by establishment types – Peter Wehner, the Goldbergs, Jonah and Bernie. … But you know what, they shouldn’t be shooting inside the tent. Look establishment, if you truly care about America as I do, Trump’s not your problem. Liberals and socialists are.”
Shooting inside the tent? This is what bothers Eric Bolling? Well then, why doesn’t it bother him that Donald Trump has shot just about everybody inside the GOP tent?
He’s called Ted Cruz a liar.
He’s called Jeb Bush a liar.
Of Carly Fironina he said, “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that?”
He said, “Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky reminds me of a spoiled brat without a properly functioning brain.”
He said Rick Perry “should be forced to take an IQ test before being allowed to enter the GOP debate.”
After Ben Carson talked about his anger as a child, Trump said: “If you are pathological, there is no cure for that, folks. If you’re a child molester, a sick puppy, you’re a child molester, there’s no cure for that.”
And there was this ridiculous shot at Marco Rubio from Trump: “He sweats more than any young person I've ever seen in my life.”
There’s more, but you get the idea. If there’s a poster boy for shooting inside the tent, it’s The Wonderful Mr. Trump.
Memo to Donald Trump’s friends in conservative media: Journalists are supposed to hold candidates running for president accountable. We’re not supposed to be slobbering toadies. We care about America, too. That’s why we ask tough but legitimate questions about their policies and call on them to defend their statements and their actions -- actions like visibly making fun of a disabled reporter, which Donald Trump clearly did right before he denied doing it.
But it’s asking too much to expect Trumps friends who only play at journalism to understand any of that.
So let’s end where we began: Trump has a knack for making his most passionate supporters look foolish.