Although opinions on the right vary regarding Pres. Trump, there seems to be an overwhelming consensus among those not reflexively opposed to him that his opponents seem to have lost their damn minds. This consensus seems only to have strengthened in the face of the abject disappointment of the left — and much of the media — that Trump was not diagnosed with early onset dementia during his recent physical.
It strikes me as odd, however, that those writing from this consensus perspective seem to be critical of — or sorrowful about — the hysteria coming from Trump’s opponents.
After all, wasn’t this supposed to be one of Trump’s biggest selling points? Through the 2016 campaign and beyond, Trump’s supporters would chortle: “He drives the liberals crazy! He drives the media crazy (but I repeat myself)!” Indeed, Trump’s ability to derange his opponents was considered a feature even by righties otherwise unenthused by the man. They would say, “Sure, I don’t like that Trump says or does this or that… but he drives the libs nuts! Look at him troll the press!”
The liberals and the establishment media continue to behave as though they are as crazy as they imagine Trump to be. Trump and his core supporters should be hanging a yuge “Mission Accomplished” banner. Instead, they complain about people suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome.
Former Trump adviser-tuned-unperson Steve Bannon called the media the “opposition party.” As National Review’s Rich Lowry observed: “The media has become for the right what the Soviet Union was during the Cold War—a common, unifying adversary of overwhelming importance.” The establishment media is playing the role the Trump White House and much of the right say they want. And yet Trump and his supporters seem unhappy about it.
Indeed, they seem to swing between outrage and mockery in the face of the left’s nutty claims that any Trump policy achievement represents mass genocide, or perhaps the End Times (as if the left believed in the End Times). But wasn’t Trump also sold on visions of the apocalypse, the metaphorical Flight 93? The left and the media are buying into the Trumpist framing of our politics. And yet Trump supporters seem unhappy about this development.
Relatedly, starting in December (and likely continuing through the State of the Union address), Trump supporters have been complaining that others have ignored the policy achievements of the Trump administration. As if Trump supporters had cared much about policy. To be sure, there are some issues core Trump supporters care about — The Wall, tariffs, a more non-interventionist foreign policy — but they seem to care about those more than Trump, given the general lack of movement on them.
Nor should this be a surprise. Trump did not campaign as a policy expert, to put it mildly. He campaigned as the Greatest Show on Earth, now that Ringling Bros. caved to political correctness, ditched the elephants and went out of business, those losers. Trump’s campaign was as much or more about Trump than anything else, no shock to anyone who has observed his decades on the pop culture scene.
Accordingly, most of the media coverage of the Trump administration is framed around his leadership and character, not his policy agenda. I wouldn’t go so far as to claim Trump supporters sold him on the basis that Trump tends to make everything about him, but it is certainly what they voted for. Trump’s narcissism and low character is what drives the left and the media nuts, above and beyond their traditional biases against a Republican politician.
Trump supporters might respond that his opponents still have a responsibility to behave rationally. But neither Trump nor his politics have much grounding in the notion of personal responsibility. Trump is the guy who provides his base with scapegoats for their misfortunes. Trump is the guy who is uninterested in reforming entitlements (even if House Speaker Paul Ryan is). Trump is the guy who plays group identity politics and is supported for fighting the way the left does.
In all of these respects, Trump has delivered on what he advertised. It’s a shame that so many of his supporters seem so unhappy about it.
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