Slightly Right

Is Trump losing conservatives?

I wrote a few weeks ago of how President Donald Trump has lost conservative media mogul Matt Drudge — not exactly new news — and mentioned that he’s also lost prominent conservative commentator Ann Coulter.

Well, Ann’s newfound disdain for the president resurfaced this weekend, when she went on a Twitter tirade against Trump, calling him “a complete moron of a president,” “the most disloyal actual retard that has ever set foot in the Oval Office,” a “complete blithering idiot,” and “the most disloyal human God ever created.”

Coulter, who once wrote a book entitled “In Trump We Trust,” turned on the president over immigration issues. And her weekend tirade was triggered by Trump’s tweet that encouraged Alabama voters to choose former football coach Tommy Tuberville over former attorney general Jeff Sessions in the state’s looming Republican primary for the U.S. Senate. She said that while Trump has failed on immigration, Sessions did not.

“Trump didn’t build the wall and never had any intention of doing so,” Coulter tweeted. “The one person in the Trump administration who did anything about immigration was Jeff Session. And this lout attacks him.”

It’s true that Trump’s tweet about his former AG was completely unbecoming of a sitting president — but, by Trump standards, it was actually pretty tame. Which says more about how Trump has lowered our expectations of the office of President of the United States more than anything else. Coulter said, “COVID gave Trump a chance to be a decent, compassionate human being (or pretending to be). But he couldn’t even do that.”

I’m not an Ann Coulter fan, not by any stretch of the imagination. But I admire her for taking a stand on her anti-Trump convictions. That’s not easy to do in the current political environment. Daring to question anything Trump says or does is the surest way to be castigated by conservatives — not because they actually think Trump is great (though a lot of them do) but because they fear that criticism of Trump will land a Democrat in the White House come January … which is looking increasingly likely despite the echo chamber that Republicans have managed to create around Trump.

Coulter is not exactly a bastion for human decency; she’s said some pretty nasty things about a lot of people. But she’s exactly right in her assessment of Trump’s (lack of) humanity, and it’s nice to see prominent conservatives taking that stance.

It also begs the question: If Trump has lost Coulter (whose support probably doesn’t matter all that much, but who is a bellwether of sorts in conservative circles) and Drudge (who probably did more than anyone to put Trump in the White House in the first place), can he really count on conservatives to turn out with the same vigor that they headed to the polls with in 2016?

Maybe it won’t matter, in the end; Democrats aren’t exactly excited about Joe Biden, and are likely to be much less so once the gaffe-prone presumptive nominee is actually able to start campaigning and holding rallies … and has to share a stage with Trump in a debate. What we might see in November is historically poor turnout for a presidential election — and nothing to do with coronavirus fears. That would be fitting, since a nation of 337 million people has given us what might be the most pitiful choice in the recent history of presidential elections.

In fact, Biden should be such a weak candidate that Trump would need only to modify his crass, undignified behavior to be a shoo-in for re-election. Yet, he trails Biden by more than 5 points in the Real Clear Politics poll average, and in almost every battleground state. Maybe that, too, won’t matter; remember that the 2016 polls gave Trump little chance of being elected.

But one senses that Trump is worried. And as he becomes more worried, he doubles-down on his approach, attempting to build on the strategy that launched him to the White House in 2016. The problem with that approach is that Trump had unified support from prominent conservative voices in 2016. He doesn’t have that this time around. And it’s mostly his own doing. Lashing out at a fellow Republican during a crucial election cycle is simply stupid. But Trump can’t help himself. He views Sessions as less than loyal, and he has an innate need to disparage those who he views as having wrongd him.

My take, back in 2016, was that any of the top Republicans who were in the hunt for the GOP nomination — Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz or John Kasich — could’ve easily defeated Hillary Clinton, and conservatives would rue the day that they sent Trump to the White House. His election would set the Republican Party back years, I warned.

Time will tell whether that statement was foresight or hyperbole. The final chapter hasn’t yet been written. What if Trump loses by a landslide this November and, worse still for Republicans, Democrats also recapture the Senate? That isn’t a far-fetched notion.

Of course, it’s also not a particularly far-fetched notion that Trump wins and Republicans maintain control of the Senate. But as spring turns to summer and polls show Trump continuing to trail “Sleepy Joe” Biden, he seems to be teetering closer and closer to the edge of self-control.

Take this weekend’s tweet storm, for example. His retweets of John Stahl were appalling. I’m loath to follow the mainstream media’s lead of calling Stahl a racist; just because someone says disparaging things about an individual who happens to be black or any other race doesn’t make them a racist, unless they’re using racial stereotypes, repeatedly singling out individuals of particular races, or otherwise making their intent clear.

But Stahl is a classless human being; of that much, there isn’t room for debate. And Trump was all too eager to retweet Stahl this weekend — again, disgustingly inappropriate comments that are far, far beneath the presidency and the standards that should accompany the office.

I’ve heard so many conservatives acknowledge that Trump is a vulgar human being. But, they’re quick to add, “He says what we’re all thinking.” Or “he actually speaks out.” Or something similar. In other words, we feel disenfranchised, and Trump speaks for us.

But do we really want Trump speaking for us?

When he retweeted Stahl’s comment about Pelosi drinking booze on the job, or the one that called Stacy Abrams fat by saying that she “visited every buffet restaurant in (Georgia), or the one that called Clinton “the skank,” are those really the things that conservatives are thinking? Is that really the attitude they want to attach themselves to?

Ben Garrett

Ben Garrett is a journalist from East Tennessee. He is publisher of the Independent Herald, a weekly newspaper serving the Big South Fork region of the Cumberland Plateau, with a sideline in website development and digital marketing. He is also an erstwhile blogger.

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Ben Garrett

Ben Garrett is a journalist from East Tennessee. He is publisher of the Independent Herald, a weekly newspaper serving the Big South Fork region of the Cumberland Plateau, with a sideline in website development and digital marketing. He is also an erstwhile blogger.

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