What is the essence of Donald Trump? Is he an aspiring strongman? Or is he just a plain old bumbler?
These two schools of thought have been in competition ever since we started to take Trump seriously. Of course he’s narcissistic, duplicitous, misogynistic, bigoted and so forth. But what is at the heart of Donald Trump? Does he intend to emulate Mussolini? Or is he primarily an uncurious incompetent?
Last week, I wrote about Donald Trump’s soft support among Republicans. Democrats already strongly disapprove of his bigotry, buffoonery and right-wing ideology. In order to dip down to Nixonian or Bush ’43 levels — high 20s, low 30s — he will have to lose support from conservatives and Republican-leaning independents.
Donald Trump is on the fast track to approval depths last plumbed by George W. Bush, or at least that’s what many Democrats hope. RealClearPolitics has his approval at 41.1 percent — and trending downward.
But without a major change in the political environment, Trump’s ratings won’t sink that much lower. Why? Because he has already burned off the public benefit of the doubt normally afforded to new presidents. In other words, those that could disapprove of him because of his clownish behavior or rank bigotry already do.
Any further decrease in his popularity will have to come from disaffected Republicans and conservative independents.
Donald Trump has always had a difficult relationship with the truth. His sheer volume of daily falsehoods overwhelms an unprepared news media — and buries unsavory stories which the Republican would prefer to keep hidden.
Trump even manages to construct entire narratives via a steady diet of alternative facts delivered to his supporters.
As the Trump transition rolls along, the infamous “Muslim ban” has returned to the forefront.
It all started on December 7, 2015, when then-candidate Donald Trump spoke to supporters after the San Bernardino mass shooting. He advocated a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” This proposal is still on his website.
It has been willfully forgotten or explained away since, but the fact remains: Trump’s first instinct was to call for a Muslim ban of indeterminate length.
It doesn’t stop there. Even in July, Trump said his plan had undergone an “expansion” and would bar individuals from places “compromised by terrorism.” This includes NATO allies like France and Germany. They “totally” meet this definition, Trump said, because they “allowed people to come into their territory.” Read more “Muslim Registry Would Require Investigation of Thought Crimes”