New York Magazine featured a picture on its cover of President Trump with a pig’s nose imposed on his face. Time depicted the president with his hair on fire, and the German magazine Der Spiegel portrayed him as a “devolved man.”
It’s not remarkable at all the story that went with that picture, “Corruption, Not Russia, Is Trump’s Greatest Political Liability,” by Jonathan Chait, is chock full of the usual animus, deception and distortion.
But what is remarkable about this story is the casual meanness that has come to characterize so much writing in the mainstream media.
“To the extent that Trump’s candidacy offered any positive appeal, as opposed to simple loathing for his opponent, this was it,” Chait said of Trump’s declaration on the campaign trail that he would stop being greedy for himself and start being greedy on behalf of the American people.
Trump’s campaign offered lots of positive appeal. He talked of rebuilding the economy, bringing back jobs, lowering taxes, strengthening the United States’ position in the world, holding its allies and adversaries accountable. No opponent has been loathed more than Trump.
Anyway, this was “the promise that pried just enough Obama voters away from Hillary Clinton in just enough upper-Midwest states to clinch the Electoral College.”
Trump may not have won the popular vote, but he pried away a lot more than a few otherwise-Clinton voters in the Rust Belt. Trump won at least 2,800 of the nation’s 3,104 counties and racked up 304 electoral votes.
Things are so bad that voters are not turning away from Trump in sufficient numbers for Chait’s taste because the news is coming at them too quickly for them to grasp.
“[A]ll the bad news about Trump keeps getting obscured by other bad news about Trump,” he wrote.
Trump’s approval rating hovers in the low-40s Chait said – it’s actually at 49 percent in the latest Rasmussen daily tracking poll; understating his poll numbers has become a given for the mainstream media – but he seems “impervious to an onslaught of scandals that would have sunk any other president and within spitting range of re-electability.”
Chait then gave away the deal. It would be better to return the American economy to the state of malaise it was in before Trump took office than to ride the dynamic growth engine now revving.
“Trump’s core proposition to the public was a business deal: If he became president, he would work to make them rich. Of course, the fact that Trump was able to reduce the presidency to such a crass exchange, forsaking such niceties as simple decency and respect for the rule of law, exposed terrifying weaknesses in the fabric of American democracy,” Chait wrote.
“But the shortest path to resolving this crisis is to remove Trump’s party – and it is Trump’s party – from full control of the government in 2018, and then to remove Trump from the White House in 2020. The clearest way to do that is to demonstrate that Trump is failing to uphold his end of the deal. After all the students at Trump University once constituted some of the biggest Trump fans in America. Until they realized Trump had conned them. Then they sued to get their money back.”
Chait knows this might not work – we’ve spent almost the entirety of the Trump administration at higher growth levels than we ever experienced under Obama – and that Trump’s coalition is in the process of reassembling. The only hope, he says, is to paint the president as a criminal.
“It should take very little work – and be a very big priority – for Democratic candidates to stitch all the administration’s misdeeds together into a tale of unchecked greed,” he wrote.
Whatever it takes to ensure the president doesn’t deliver on his promise to make the American people rich.