By Erick Erickson
They thought he was a closet liberal who would go left the moment he was elected or the moment he hit rough water. He has actually stayed largely on course. Yesterday, almost to a person, those friends of mine who did not and still do not really care for Donald Trump loved him.
For more than an hour they cheered him on as he lashed out at an American media so many conservatives have perceived as biased and whose reporting is premised on left of center presuppositions.
When the media started complaining about the treatment, these Trump critics loved him all the more. “They’re squealing like a stuck pig,” a friend told me.
I had many friends in that room, some of whom were forced to stand up to the brunt of the Trumpnami. I have other friends in the media profession who, after it was over, were highly critical and insisted the spectacle was an affront to a free press.
While I understand their concerns, I just do not think they sufficiently understand the concerns of those who now cheer on every time Trump bludgeons them.
While Donald Trump was beating up the press, Baronelle Stutzman was losing a case before the Washington Supreme Court. She is a florist who has a large number of gay customers who she gladly serves. But when asked to provide flowers for a gay wedding, her Christian faith prevented her from agreeing.
The presuppositions of many of the reporters outraged by Donald Trump go against Baronelle Stutzman. From Buzzfeed to the New York Times, she is treated like a bigot. A florist in the United States of American can refuse to provide flowers to any wedding for any reason under the sun except one. If a Christian florist refuses to lie and says it is about her faith, the state will ruin her. The media will stack the deck against her in coverage.
The people who are outraged by this treatment are the ones cheering on Donald Trump. They cheer him on for daring to push back against left of center presuppositions and an arrogance that presumes the “free press” provision of the First Amendment only applies to those with a press badge.
While Donald Trump was speaking and the media spent the rest of the day reviewing his attack on them, multiple attacks in the Middle East killed more than 120 people. But the American news organizations were too busy navel gazing to notice.
And the people cheered on Donald Trump. He is a means to an end and that end is finally giving back to a group of people who behave as cultural elitists and insist people of good faith and conscience conform to values that do not reflect them instead of embracing a live and let live culture.
At the same time, this was not the behavior any of us should want in a President of the United States. Many of us on the right may have enjoyed the show, but we should be appalled that our President behaved in this way. This was neither normal nor sane.
I personally thought, even when he was combative, the President handled himself in a rather jovial, humorous way. But his statements gathered together as a whole should worry even his most ardent supporters.
While calling the reports of the leaks fake news, the President said the media reported what happened on his call with the Australian Prime Minister. Previously, the President told us the reports were wrong, but now he calls the news wrong, but said the press got the story right from the leaks.
The President said General Flynn was a great man and it was the media’s fault General Flynn resigned. But the President also said General Flynn misled Vice President Pence. Why was that not the reason for his resignation, instead of blaming it on the media?
Lastly, I could not help but leave with the impression that the President is still unwilling to be clear on the matter of Russia. I took it not as him trying to cover up the truth, but him recognizing it is a public relations problem he has no solutions for.
That the President could say with a straight face that the roll out of his immigration executive order went smoothly, that the White House is not going through a bit of a chaotic period, and again get the basic facts of his election wrong should bother us all.
Republicans impeached a President of the United States for lying and yesterday they cheered on a man who repeatedly lied in a press conference before the American public.
I admit, I enjoyed the spectacle. I admit, I thought it was nice to finally have a Republican President use his bully pulpit to defend himself and go on offense. I admit I loved the media complaining about it so much that they ignored major contradictions in the President’s statements.
But I also admit that this is not the behavior any of us should want in a President. This is not Presidential behavior. This is not behavior we should want our children to model and, like it or not, Presidents tend to be role models.
Many conservatives signed on with Donald Trump, ultimately, to beat the left. At this point, no one should underestimate Donald Trump. But I just have a nagging suspicion that the conservative movement and Christian evangelicals may have won the battle, but will lose the war in this way.
Donald Trump won the Presidency by winning a handful of states by less than 1% of the vote in each state. It will take very little to upset his apple cart. Tipping that cart over could damage conservatives’ ability to battle the left long term and cost them any moral standing with the American people.
The truth is that I still worry Donald Trump will do more long term damage to conservatives and the GOP than anyone expects. I hope that I am as wrong about that as I was about the Presidential election.
But the President’s behavior yesterday was not what we should want in a President or, frankly, in any sane leader.