Wednesday, May 27, 2020


As U.S. deaths from COVID-19 reach 100,000, President Trump -- laser-focused as always on America's most serious problems -- is picking a fight with Joe Scarborough, insinuating, despite all evidence, that Scarborough murdered Lori Klausutis, a staffer who died in the then-congressman's office in 2000.

The pro-Trump New York Post assumes that most of Trump's supporters wish he would stop behaving this way.
We suppose there are some Trump followers who enjoy this. The libs say horrible things about you, go ahead and say terrible things about them! There is a difference, though, between mocking someone’s ratings and hurting an innocent family with the memories of their tragic daughter because of a petty feud.

A much larger portion of Trump’s support, we’d wager, are people who like his policies and brush off his personality — or try to.

The brashness comes in handy when you make a call like finally moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem — being told “you can’t do that” means little to Trump. So he says some outrageous things on Twitter, who cares?

But is that really the president you want to be, sir? The president for whom people disregard half or even most of what you say as irrelevant?
In The Atlantic, NeverTrump conservative Peter Wehner contends that Trump's supporters merely "tolerate" this behavior as a means to an end.
A lot of human casualties result from the cruelty of malignant narcissists like Donald Trump—casualties, it should be said, that his supporters in the Republican Party, on various pro-Trump websites and news outlets, and on talk radio are willing to tolerate or even defend. Their philosophy seems to be that you need to break a few eggs to make an omelet. If putting up with Trump’s indecency is the price of maintaining power, so be it.
Do people really still believe this, nearly five years after Trump declared his candidacy? Do they believe that Trump's backers merely put up with his rages? If so, those backers could have given us a signal. In the 1990s, after the Monica Lewinsky story broke, Bill Clinton got high marks for job performance and low marks on personal approval in most polls. Trump's base makes no such distinction, no matter how repellent his behavior.

Because repellent behavior is what they want. Wehner's Atlantic colleague Adam Serwer had it right in 2018: the cruelty is the point.
At a rally in Mississippi, a crowd of Trump supporters cheered as the president mocked Christine Blasey Ford, the psychology professor who has said that Brett Kavanaugh, whom Trump has nominated to a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court, attempted to rape her when she was a teenager. “Lock her up!” they shouted....

It is not just that the perpetrators of this cruelty enjoy it; it is that they enjoy it with one another. Their shared laughter at the suffering of others is an adhesive that binds them to one another, and to Trump....

Somewhere on the wide spectrum between adolescent teasing and the smiling white men in ... lynching photographs are the Trump supporters whose community is built by rejoicing in the anguish of those they see as unlike them, who have found in their shared cruelty an answer to the loneliness and atomization of modern life.

... It is that cruelty, and the delight it brings them, that binds his most ardent supporters to him, in shared scorn for those they hate and fear: immigrants, black voters, feminists, and treasonous white men who empathize with any of those who would steal their birthright. The president’s ability to execute that cruelty through word and deed makes them euphoric. It makes them feel good, it makes them feel proud, it makes them feel happy, it makes them feel united. And as long as he makes them feel that way, they will let him get away with anything, no matter what it costs them.
It's conceivable that Trump's backers have a pang of guilt about the harm being done to Lori Klausutis's husband and family -- the real target is Scarborough, who has committed the unpardonable sin of criticizing Trump, for which he must be destroyed. The harm done to Klausutis's family is necessary collateral damage.

Trump's supporters could have had his policies without his personality at any time over the previous three and a half years. Mike Pence is ready to be a policy Trump without being, you know, Trump. If Trump voters don't like Trump's worst traits, they could have signaled this to pollsters and to their members of Congress.

They didn't. They like this. No, let me put that more accurately: This is what they like. This is the point of Trumpism.

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