It’s been amply established that Donald Trump is the most unfit and unqualified president in recent memory. But you wouldn’t know that if you got most of your news from American Family Radio, “The 700 Club” or other religious right-aligned outlets. To hear the nation’s moral guardians talk, Trump is not only saving the country, but saving this country’s soul. After all, he’s promised to roll back abortion and marriage equality, among other things near and dear to the religious right’s heart.
So in the name of pushing forward those pet issues, the religious right is propping up a guy who has no qualms about plastering a private cell phone number on social media, mocking the disabled, degrading women, retweeting violent and hateful memes, and openly admitted he’s trying to gaslight the media into submission. And that’s before we even discuss the almost daily cases of boorish, embarrassing, and outrageous behavior we’ve seen in the last three-plus years. By any standard, the religious right has sold its soul to Trump.
Recently, the folks at People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch discovered that Trump isn’t the only case of the religious right overlooking outrageous behavior from a government official who is seemingly giving them what they want. Namely, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.
More than any other Trump administration official, Pruitt has proven that Trump’s talk about “draining the swamp” is hot air. He has been under well-deserved fire for living large at taxpayer expense. Staying at a condo owned by an energy lobbyist. Building a $43,000 phone booth in his Washington office. Employing a 24-hour security detail, and using it for personal travel. Trying to get a Chick-fil-A franchise for his wife. And on, and on, and on.
All of this has even some of Trump’s most diehard supporters up in arms. For instance, the Chick-fil-A franchise fiasco was the final straw for Fox News’ Laura Ingraham.
National Review also turned on Pruitt, saying that his actions are “no way for a public official to treat taxpayers.”
Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, perhaps the most conservative woman in the Senate, all but called Pruitt a swamp creature on MSNBC. Watch here.
Ernst told Chuck Todd that Pruitt was running the EPA in a manner that was “about as swampy as you get.” She believed Trump needed to lay down the law to Pruitt–clean up your act if you want to keep your job.
But apparently that didn’t matter to the attendees at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Conference last week. The conference’s organizer, Ralph Reed, told the audience that Pruitt was “a dear friend of faith and freedom” who had frequently worked with the religious right-aligned Rutherford Institute while he was Oklahoma’s attorney general.
Pruitt himself kept up the line, claiming that liberals are out to limit religious freedom to “the four walls of the church,” and aren’t willing to let them “confront the culture with the truths of scripture.” He gushed that we now had a president “who stands unapologetically for religious liberty” and is fighting for this country’s soul.
Earlier suggested that Pruitt was doing something that has become all too typical for right-wingers under fire–appear before a fawning audience in order to get a breather. As it turned out, another storm was coming. A front-page article in Saturday’s New York Times–below the fold–reveals that Pruitt expects senior EPA staffers to help him with personal matters.
If the religious right is willing to stand by Pruitt after this, it really will have become part of the Trump swamp.
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