With a little over 13 months to go before Election Day, Donald Trump is in a position that is brutal by any standard. As I write this on Saturday morning, his average approval rating at FiveThirtyEight stands at 42.2 percent. By Nate Silver’s reckoning, on average Trump has never been too far north of 43 percent. Moreover, a recent CNN poll showed only 33 percent of Americans believe Trump has changed this country for the better. That’s a stark contrast with Trump’s incessant tweets that this country has moved from glory to glory under his watch.
In normal times, a president faced with these numbers would be on life support. But Trump is still standing in large part because the religious right is one of the few elements still firmly in his corner. The nation’s so-called moral guardians have spent the last four-plus years peddling a false narrative about Trump.
To hear them talk, Russia didn’t hack the election for Trump. Nope, God did because he wanted a president who would not only make America great again, but make America Christian again. That entailed protecting the religious right’s idea of religious liberty, rolling back abortion and marriage equality, and above all else putting conservative justices on our courts.
So what if he revels in degrading women, fostered an environment in which his campaign aides solicited help from a hostile foreign power, and blew racist and anti-Semitic dog whistles? No, no–none of that really matters. As the fundies see it, all that matters is that Trump is giving them what they want on policy.
We got a lovely example of this mentality late this week from one of Trump’s most diehard religious right supporters, James Robison. One of the more prominent culture warriors from the 1980s, Robison abruptly left the battlefield in 1983, saying his hellfire-and-brimstone attacks on abortion and gays were demotically driven. In recent years, however, he has launched all-out war on “ungodly forces” that are supposedly menacing the country, and claims those who support abortion and marriage equality are unfit to lead.
Robison has become an open and unashamed supporter of Trump, and is a member of Trump’s evangelical advisory board. So it should come as no surprise that he has been shamelessly peddling the narrative that Trump has brought glory to our country. He took it to a new level on Tuesday, when he posted a video message to his followers singing Trump’s praises.
Robison maintained that Trump has asked him and other ministers to “surround him with prayer,” and they have been more than willing to oblige. He claimed that if he were in the same room with Trump and the leaders of the House and Senate, he would tell them that “every great and positive thing that is happening today” is the result of “committed, sold-out people” on their knees in prayer. He went on to say that Trump’s “willingness to stand up against all the assault” is a “miracle” in and of itself.
Um, James? Much of that “assault” comes from Trump’s tenuous–at best–relationship with the truth, as well as his willingness to blow up at the tiniest perceived slight. If calling out such behavior is “assault,” your moral compass is as warped as that of Trump. But then again, you once said with a straight face that Democrats are the ones who are mentally unstable.
Robison googled down in another video message on Thursday.
In Robison’s telling, Trump personally asked him and his wife, Betty, to “surround me with prayer and surround me with wisdom.” In response, Robison said, God has placed a number of Christian leaders around Trump, all of whom have marveled at how Trump has held up under the relentless attacks he faces every day.
With all due respect, James, you and your friends are so blinded by the supposed glory that Trump is bringing that you don’t realize you aren’t doing your jobs. Would a president who is truly surrounded by wisdom call women “dog” and “horseface”? Would he stand and watch his supporters demand that he send one of his most ardent critics–a congresswoman who is a refugee–back where she came from? Would he lie over 10,000 times? Would he have claimed a legitimate effort to investigate his campaign aides’ behavior was a witch hunt? And on, and on, and on.
By incessantly claiming, in the face of all available evidence, that Trump is bringing nothing but glory to this country, Robison and his compatriots sound like boosters for a collegiate program that openly flouts the rules in the name of on-field success. They also sound like the Boston FBI did when it was willing to take on notorious and vicious criminals–most infamously Whitey Bulger–in the name of bringing down the Mafia.
If Robison and the religious right continue on this path, they will suffer the same fate–damage to their standing that will take years to repair. And that assumes its repairable.
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