As of Wednesday, Donald Trump’s average approval rating, as calculated by FiveThirtyEight, stands at 39.5 percent. As brutal as that number is, the biggest reason Trump is even doing that well is because the religious right is still firmly in his corner. Ever since Trump’s upset victory, the nation’s so-called moral guardians have fed a false narrative to their followers about his presidency.
While the rest of the nation sees an almost daily onslaught of outrages and alternative facts, the religious right would have us believe that Trump has gone from victory to victory in his effort to not only make America great again, but make America Christian again. For instance, he’s been able to put two justices on the Supreme Court–thus raising the prospect that Roe v. Wade could be overturned. He has also thrown another major bone to the religious right by banning most transgender people from serving in the military.
To be sure, some evangelicals are beginning to realize that this emperor has no clothes. A recent poll conducted by Marist College for NPR and PBS Newshour shows that 66 percent of white evangelicals approve of Trump’s performance. As disheartening as that is, you have to consider that a whopping 81 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump in 2016, and Trump has since consistently racked up approval ratings of well over 70 percent among white evangelicals. Marist’s poll in December, for instance, pegged his evangelical support at 73 percent.
But that hasn’t stopped the religious right from ramping up the spin machine. For instance, one of Trump’s loudest religious right supporters would have his readers believe that the rescheduled State of the Union address is actually a yuuuuge victory for Trump.
Steve Strang is the founder and publisher of Charisma magazine, the largest Pentecostal/charismatic magazine in the country and perhaps the world. In recent years, he has used that platform to carry water for right-wing interests. But he has taken it to another level in the age of Trump. He has been among the loudest promoters of the canard that God hacked the election for Trump, not Russia.
To that end, he has written two paeans to Trump in as many years. In 2017, he wrote “God and Donald Trump,” which argues Trump’s upset victory was nothing short of a miracle. Just last month, he released a follow-up, “Trump Aftershock,” which offers a “Christian perspective” on how much Trump is supposedly winning for the country.
Strang recently penned a column at Charisma News about Trump agreeing to reschedule the State of the Union address for February 5. To hear Strang talk, it represented a “huge political victory” for Trump.
Anyone who followed the 35-day standoff can be pardoned if they fall down laughing after reading that statement. Trump spent most of that time holding his breath and refusing to even consider a spending deal that didn’t include $5.7 billion in funding for a massive wall along the Mexican border. The Democrats were not willing to negotiate on border security unless the government reopened, rightly arguing that Trump was effectively attempting to govern via extortion.
Their argument was bolstered just days before Christmas, when Trump abruptly pulled his support for a continuing resolution to keep the government open through February 2019 after right-wing pundits howled in protest. This left no doubt that Trump was responsible for the shutdown–one that left over 800,000 federal workers without pay for over a month.
While all this was happening, Pelosi refused to extend Trump the customary invitation to deliver the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress until the government reopened. She argued that so many Secret Service and Homeland Security personnel were furloughed that there was no way to ensure adequate security for the event. After cavalierly seeking a walkthrough of the Capitol with a view toward giving the speech on the originally scheduled date of January 29, Trump finally relented and agreed to postpone the speech until the government reopened.
Ultimately, after a mass sickout by air traffic controllers snarled the nation’s air traffic, Trump was forced to take essentially the same deal he’d cavalierly rejected a month earlier. So all things considered, it’s downright laughable to even suggest this was a victory for Trump. Even diehard Trump supporter Lou Dobbs was forced to admit that Trump got “whipped” by Pelosi–and royally.
The most benign interpretation for this bizarre assessment from Strang is that he is speaking to an audience that has more or less walled itself off from the rest of the world. Fueling this, just a week earlier, Strang spoke to some of that audience on DoveTV’s Focus Today. Watch here.
Strang told host Perry Atkinson that it was not wise to underestimate Trump, since “everybody else plays checkers, and he’s playing chess.” Well, if that’s true, Trump was checkmated last week. It cannot be stated enough–he was forced to take the same deal he’d turned down a month earlier.
Everyone who has paid attention knows this. The only way you can call this a victory for Trump is if you aren’t paying attention–or if you’ve made Trump an orange calf.
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