Have you heard the latest about President Trump?
You can’t avoid hearing it — unless you live in a cave, or are lying on some warm sunny beach that is far away from any modern form of communication. The networks, cable channels and talking heads are all over it — talking about how the latest splash surely will lead to the demise of the Trump presidency, if not land him in jail.
We have been hearing this stuff for almost two years of his presidency — “breaking news” that brings us one step closer to Trump’s inevitable downfall. And when one station runs a story, everyone else follows. The pack reporting is kind of like dogs at a greyhound race track chasing a fake rabbit.
The latest, at least at this writing, is the revelation that Donald Trump (who was campaigning for the presidency) was in the room when his lawyer at the time, Michael Cohen, discussed paying hush money for Trump’s sexcapades with two women. As the story goes, Trump was concerned that revelations of his ventures would hurt his chances of winning the 2016.
You can imagine the collective thunder of “We’ve got him now!” ringing from the newsroom rafters. If it’s all true, then Trump committed a crime. He could be indicted, and maybe sent to prison. At the very least, he could be impeached … and eventually removed from office. And when it’s all over, we’d see a record number of nominations for Pulitzers and TV news awards — because everyone wants in on the action. Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley would be proud of today’s journalistic excellence.
Trouble is, a lot people stopped paying attention to these wolf calls a long time ago. Trump’s poll numbers have remained steady, with some showing him with an approval rating in the high 40s.
These aren’t your usual passive supporters. I’ve run across some who think that Trump is doing a splendid job as president, and doing what has needed to be done for a long time. They’ll cheer at the bowling lanes when Trump announces he’ll put troops at the southern border to keep those Mexicans out of “our” country. They get a kick out of watching the liberal media’s heads exploding with every tweet from the Oval Office.
I’ve found that debating with avid Trump supporters at a golf course is akin to arguing with someone who is drunk at a bar. They’re right and you’re wrong, so let’s play this last hole for a beer.
In Idaho, being part of Trump’s fan club is an example of “mainstream thinking” — and politicians are well aware of it. You’ll hear nary a word of criticism from the likes of Sens. Mike Crapo, or Jim Risch. Russ Fulcher is heading to Congress as an overall Trump supporter of the president’s agenda. Even Congressman Mike Simpson, who said Trump was unfit for the presidency shortly before the 2016 election, has backed off from his rhetoric. In my last conversation with him, he said he understood why Trump is so frustrated with the media.
Simpson has a point. Reporters ask tough questions, and can be aggressive in their approach. It looks nasty on television.
The one hammer that has not been dropped is special prosecutor’s Robert Mueller’s findings from his Russian probe. That could spell the end of Trump’s presidency, but only if the information is so damaging — and that the threat to America was so great — that even the most loyal of Republicans walk away. Mueller’s final report would have to offend even the most vocal of Trump’s supporters.
Another way to end Trump’s presidency is for Democrats to field a candidate in two years who is dynamic, visionary and likable — the ingredients that helped Presidents Kennedy, Carter, Clinton and Obama win elections.
The most prominent name I hear is Joe Biden, who will turn 78 soon after the 2020 election. If that’s the best Democrats can do, then they richly deserve Trump for another four years.
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Chuck Malloy, a Silver Valley native and longtime Idaho journalist, is a columnist with Idaho Politics Weekly. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.