The New York Times editorial page has taken a short break from its self-assigned beat of telling these truths. It has forked over its Thursday editorial-page space to the arguments of Trump supporters across the country. “In the spirit of open debate, and in hopes of helping readers who agree with us better understand the views of those who don’t, we wanted to let Mr. Trump’s supporters make their best case for him as the first year of his presidency approaches its close,” noted an italicized message at the top of the presentation.
Any decision taken by the New York Times vis-à-vis Trump is guaranteed to land smack-dab in the middle of a great American fissure. And there’s been some criticism of the decision.
Yet there’s a visionary aspect to the exercise, an aspect that only a committed cable-news watcher can appreciate. Big-time Trump supporters have failed over and over again at their jobs. Think back to Jeffrey Lord, the former pro-Trump CNN pundit who unspooled implausible historical “parallels” to excuse the Trump outrage of the day. Or think back to Kayleigh McEnany, the former pro-Trump CNN pundit who made even less sense fighting for Trump. (She’s now at the Republican National Committee.) Or think back to former White House aides — Sebastian Gorka and Sean Spicer, for example — who are no longer inelegantly spinning for the president from the White House grounds.
So the professionals have failed. Now, courtesy of the New York Times, we are hearing from unpaid Trump supporters such as Jason Peck of Holtsville, N.Y.: “Yes, he is embarrassing. Yes, he picks unnecessary fights,” reads Peck’s letter in the special edition of the New York Times editorial page. “But he also pushed tax reform through, has largely defeated ISIS in Iraq, has named a number of solid conservative judges, has prioritized American citizens over illegal immigrants, has gotten us out of several bad international agreements, has removed a number of wasteful regulations, is putting real pressure on North Korea and Iran, has reined in a number of out-of-control agencies, and so on and so on.”
Steven Landis of Hampton Bays, N.Y., writes: “Granted we have the most unpresidential president of our time. Crude, rude, clueless dude — but I believe, with the help of his friends, he’s stumbling through one of the most effective presidencies in memory.”
Such individuals have an advantage over the professional class of Trump supporters, in that anyone in Trump’s orbit knows better than to cede any ground, to admit any fault, in defense of Trump. Should they do so, they’ll lose critical Trump-sycophancy points. Marc Lotter, former press secretary for Vice President Pence, attested to this dynamic in a CNN interview after the “shithole” scandal, in which the president was reported to have objected to immigration from countries in Africa and elsewhere, while welcoming it from Norway. “Well, I stand with the president in terms of the fact that we need to reform our immigration,” said Lotter when asked by host Anderson Cooper whether he was proud of the president’s comments.
Pressed again, Lotter responded, “Well, I choose to view this in the way … the way it was intended, which is talking about our broader immigration system.”
The letter writers pack far more intellectual honesty, as they concede that our president is a bad man whose accomplishments, such as they are, please them. Can we get these people a cable-contributor contract or two?
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