It’s funny how, for all the spittle-drenched screaming about the #MSM peddling their #FakeNews, the sheen of objectivity can soften a truly distressing piece of news. Take, for example, this new CBS poll on President Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville last weekend. If you’ve been living under a rock for the past few days – and seriously, good for you, hit me up if you’re looking to sublet – our president looked at two days of self-proclaimed white supremacists marching on a college campus (armed to the teeth, attacking counter-protesters with metal poles and full-speed cars, leaving several injured and one dead), wandered in off the golf course and mumbled some mealy-mouthed bullshit condemning “this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides — on many sides” (just like that, said it twice, for emphasis), and then everyone was like “seriously dude, on many sides,” so he came out Monday and offered up a day-late-and-a-dollar short “of course white supremacists are bad” statement with all the enthusiasm of a rich-kid date-rapist reading a court-mandated apology before starting his community service, and then came out the next day for a press conference where he dug himself right back into the same hole, proclaiming “there is blame on both sides,” and “You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. I’ll say it right now,” while insisting, of the Charlottesville terrorists, “Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch,” and that those who were there to protest their demonstration came “charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent.”
So yeah, it’s been a bit of a week.
CBS took a poll to gauge how Americans were taking this blithering con artist’s casual embrace of Fox News and alt-right talking points, and found responses split greatly among partisan lines (duh), but that a majority of Americans disapprove of Trump’s response to the attack. But the blaring takeaway should be this: Jesus Christ, 34% of Americans approve of his response. 34%. Just over one-third.*
And here’s a wild coincidence: that’s exactly the same as his current overall approval rating (“the lowest rating in Gallup’s history for any newly elected president in the summer of his first term in office” and “lower than any reading for his immediate predecessor, Barack Obama,” notes Gallup, but we all know Trump doesn’t really care about ratings). In other words, he chose on Tuesday to say to hell with it and seize that rock-bottom base, spouting the kind of rhetoric that keeps them on Team Trump no matter what, hell or high water, shoot somebody in the middle of Fifth Avenue and all that.
These are the voters for whom it doesn’t matter that he can’t repeal Obamacare, that he won’t build his border wall, that he can’t fix immigration, that he won’t bring back manufacturing, that he’s made us a laughing stock on the world stage, and that he’s casually brought us to the brink of nuclear war. None of that matters; they can put all of that aside, because at the end of the day, he’s still the guy who launched his campaign by calling Mexicans rapists, he’s still the guy who called for the execution of five black teenagers for a crime they didn’t commit, he’s still the guy who spent years insisting that our first African-American president was a foreign-born citizen, he’s still the guy who’ll tell anyone who listens that he has superior genes and German blood, he’s still the guy whose family business discriminated against people of color, and he’s still the guy whose father was once arrested in a brawl following a Klan rally.
They know exactly who he is. He’s one of them. And that’s why he stood in Trump Tower Tuesday peddling both-sides-are-violent bullshit that dates back to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, and that’s why he pivoted, that day, into the controversy over the removal of Confederate monuments, a right-wing culture-war greatest hit that he was still playing this morning on Twitter. These aren’t dog whistles; this is a parking lot full of car alarms, blaring at three in the morning.
But no, we’re told, everyone who voted for Trump, who voted for all of that and more, isn’t a racist. Uh huh. Well, sorry, everyone who still supports him is. They just might not know it – or be willing to be admit it.
(*Side note to the 10% of Democrats who support his response: Um, you motherfuckers can see yourselves out.)