I’ve been trying to think of something – anything, actually – that Donald Trump could say that would cause his most faithful supporters to dump him. Something they would find so offensive that would get them to end their torrid love affair with him. And I finally came up with one possibility.
If at one of his massive rallies, Trump raised his hands asking for silence from the crowd, and said, “I believe Barack Obama is an American. I believe he was born in Hawaii. I believe his birth certificate is real. I further believe he is a Christian and therefore is not a Muslim,” that would do him in. But that’s the only thing that would do him in. And since that’s not going to happen …
There is nothing in the real world that would make his most passionate backers turn on him. Nothing. The other day, when Joe Scarborough on MSNBC asked Trump about the compliment he received from Vladimir Putin, Trump returned the praise saying, “at least he’s a leader.” But when Scarborough pointed out that Putin orders the murder of journalists and other political opponents, what did Trump say? “Our country does plenty of killing too.”
Imagine if Barack Obama had said that. Or Hillary Clinton. Conservatives would go wild. But when Trump takes a shot at his own country, they yawn; that is if they’re not cheering.
Something is very wrong here.
The fact is that Donald Trump’s supporters are different from Kasich supporters and Christie supporters and Bush supporters and Rubio supporters and Fiorina supporters and Huckabee supports and just about every other candidate’s supporters. And as I said in my last column and also on “The O’Reilly Factor,” Trump supporters are not like most Americans, either — in that they’re angrier, they’re more frustrated, and they feel more alienated from the political system.
You’d think they’d not only agree that they’re more disgusted than most with politics as usual but would wear the observation as a badge of honor, as a sign that they care more about the future of the country than most Americans. They didn’t see it that way. They were furious, especially since I said that the polls by and large show that Trump won’t beat Hillary if he wins the GOP nomination.
And how do Trump’s diehard supporters show their love for him, how do they defend their messiah from the blasphemy of a commentator with an “unacceptable” opinion? Here’s how (with ** replacing the actual words they wrote):
“Bernie, f**k you in the a** you punk,” wrote one Trump fan we’ll call Z, the first letter of his last name, the only name he apparently goes by in the dark recesses of social media.
Someone named Melanie wrote to simply tell me to “Shut the F**k up.” When I asked if she kisses her mother with that mouth, to her credit, she apologized.
Joseph said I was “the enemy of America” because I don’t support Trump for president.
Walter, who like many of the angriest in the Trump camp, can’t spell, wrote: “Your an idiot!” Don added an adjective, telling me that I’m a “senile idiot.”
Woody, who writes in capital letters, told me I should “DROP DEAD.” He wrote again to inform me that he “CONTACTED VLAD THE IMPALER—HE WILL GLADLY STICK YOUR POLLS UP YOU’RE A**—YOU ARE NOTHING BUT A TIMES HACK…”
I never worked for the Times, but since Trump supporters hate the media as much as they hate Obama and the GOP leadership, maybe Woody figured he’d take a shot at the New York Times while he was at it.
Josh wrote to simply say: “You suck.”
Von had a conspiracy theory. “We realize what they [commentators on Fox News] really want is for an Catholic to be President,” he wrote, and since Trump is not “an” Catholic the Fox crowd is going after him.
Then there are the ones who call Hillary Clinton, “Hitlery” and the ones who don’t like Jews or Muslims or gays or blacks and who think Krauthammer, Will, Hayes and O’Reilly are a bunch of wimpy liberals and that the Fox News Channel and yours truly should “Go to hell.”
These people shouldn’t be allowed to get anywhere near sharp instruments or cars.
And for the record, I’m not the only one who receives this kind of fan mail. There are others on TV, and others who write newspaper columns pointing out Donald Trump’s shortcomings, who get the same kind of thoughtful missives.
Not all Trump supporters are vulgar, of course. But too many are. And it’s their leader’s style – Trump’s gratuitous vindictiveness when responding to opponents who have criticized him – that unleashes the ugliness that is not good for politics or for civil debate in this country.
Trust me, I’m not looking for sympathy. I can handle bad language and dopey potshots. Still, it is depressing – and not just because people who like to think of themselves as conservatives, people who supported Ronald Reagan, shouldn’t act this way, but also because too many conservatives in the media, the ones who carry big megaphones and have the ability to influence opinion, don’t seem to care.
I understand that they don’t want to come across as a kind of clergy, piously lecturing their flock on how to behave. But is this kind of poison okay with conservatives on talk radio? Is it okay with Trump’s many friends on the Fox News Channel?
Do they hate liberals and Democrats so much that they won’t speak out against the venom that Donald Trump is bringing out in too many of his supporters?
Is this the kind of conservatism real conservatives want? Is it the kind of America they want?