This past week has been an eye-opener for many Americans. Setting aside Trump’s bellicose statements toward North Korea’s dictator Kim Jung Un, events at Charlottesville, VA and Trump’s subsequent remarks, have revealed to anyone who had any lingering doubt that POTUS 45 is too unstable and incompetent to govern.
In fact those are essentially the words that Sen. Bob Corker (R) from Tennessee, and Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, used to describe the president.
Sen. Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina, and the Senates only black member, stated,
"Racism is real. It is alive. It is here. But the response from the vast majority of this country is diametrically opposite of the response in the '60s. We've had the United States military, generals, leaders, standing up and rejecting, completely, racism. We've had corporate America, which was fairly silent back in the '60s, standing up very strong, very loud and very proud."
He stated, as well, that he could no longer, “defend the indefensible”.
Scott’s reference to corporate America referred in part to the fact that the president’s manufacturing council was disbanded following the resignation of a number of the CEO members.
The manufacturing council was in a way emblematic of the Trump presidency; it was simply window dressing, a prop for photo-ops. The CEOs who might have thought otherwise initially, basically came to understand that reality and knew that they had much more to lose by having their company’s brand associated with white supremacists than they had to gain by remaining on the council.
James Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch’s son, the CEO of 20th Century Fox, and a Trump ally, wrote a scathing email in which he said, “"I can't even believe I have to write this: standing up to Nazis is essential; there are no good Nazis, or Klansmen, or terrorists. Democrats, Republicans, and others must all agree on this, and it compromises nothing for them to do so."
Previously, Senators John McCain, (R) Arizona, and Lindsey Graham, (R) South Carolina and Sen. Jeff Flake (R), also of Arizona have been outspoken in their criticism of Trump. Trump hates Flake with a venom that is typical of his hatred for critics. Flake wrote a book equating Trump’s election to “the spasms of a dying party”. Trump has actively campaigned against Flake, despite the fact that Flake has voted to support Trump proposals over 93% of the time.
Trump is increasingly being left only with his base for support of his agenda. There seems to be a “disconnect” between the Republican voter and these recent events. The latest (Aug. 7-13) Gallup poll says that 79% of Republican voters still support Trump. This contrasts to 36% among all voters, 7% of Democrats, and 29% of Independents. The overall approval rating has eroded slightly over the months of Trump’s presidency, but has never been above 40%. This contrasts with previous presidents whose approval at the same time in office ranged from 44% for Bill Clinton, to 76% for John Kennedy. Most were in the 50s or 60s at this point.
Conservatives, as a rule, tend to be very loyal, even when there seems to be nothing to deserve their approval other than their desire to be part of the “tribe”. Conservatives, also, have great respect for authority, and it will be interesting to see whether this beginning defection among party leaders will affect their opinion.
One noticeably lacking criticism is from social conservatives. A great many social conservatives see their source of authority as coming from higher than the country’s leaders and get their instruction on that authority from religious leaders. Despite everything, religious leaders supporting Trump have described him as “man of God”.
The absolute ignorance of some Americans about what used to be called civics is a factor to be considered. In the run-up to the 2014 election one third of likely voters did not know which party controlled the house or senate, and about 20% had never heard of Mitch McConnell.
Americans are more likely to approve of the president according to what the crowd at the barber shop says, or that their preacher touts than they are to form an opinion on the basis of their own evaluation.