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Believing Comey — and in Trump’s steady approval rating

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
James Comey

Perhaps the James Comey moment is passing, although he’s still around. I watched and read half a zillion of his interviews. But William Saletan of Slate claims to have consumed them all, across audio, video and print. And his conclusion, which is the title of his piece: “Believe James Comey.”

Specifically, Saletan means that on any matter over which Comey and Donald Trump disagree, believe Comey.

I also find Comey very credible, not just because I find Trump so much less credible, but because Comey put on a clinic about how to project credibility. He doesn’t flatter himself. He doesn’t speculate. If he doesn’t know the answer to a question he’s asked, he says “I don’t know.”

Of course, if the question is whether to believe Comey or Trump, it’s not even close. It seems that we almost need a word other than “lie” to describe Trump’s firehose stream of falsehoods and exaggerations. We can only speculate about whether even he, the author of the lies, is aware of the falsehood of what he just uttered or whether he recognizes that the dichotomy of truth and lies applies to his utterances.

By genius or something else, he has figured out that a significant minority of Americans – enough, especially in the swing states, to get him elected – will accept blatant falsehoods rather than face plain truths about modern times, about the world, and about their leader.

Since this piece is short, and since I haven’t updated my regular tracking of the Trumpian approval rating in more than a month, here’s the update (which is pretty similar to most of the updates): No real change.

As of Friday morning, the HuffPost average of many polls on the current incumbent’s approval ratings is 41.9 percent approval; 52.3 percent disapproval. This represents a small change from the HuffPost average from late March, when it was 43.1/52.7.

Look at the whole trendline and you’ll see that they have basically been flat, with a very small, statistically insignificant improvement throughout 2018.

The current once-a-week Gallup approval number, 42 approval/53 disapproval, matches the HuffPost average, although last week’s Gallup number (38/57) was worse. The best conclusion looking at all these numbers, once again, is that they are unchanged, just as Trump’s basic presentation of who and what he is remains unchanged.

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 05/04/2018 - 08:02 pm.

    The only honesty

    …the Current Occupant has credibly advanced is precisely what Eric has stated: who and what he is. He has never pretended otherwise, which makes the fact that millions of people voted for him even more appalling, and that numerous otherwise very smart and dedicated people are willing to work for him even more distressing. It’s not a “mystery,” exactly, that those people are willing to subvert themselves to the astonishing ego that occupies the Oval Office, but it’s certainly distressing to note how many who claim to be patriots have no apparent difficulty in attributing patriotism to the most totally self-serving chief executive the nation has ever seen. Equally distressing are the numbers of people – at least those who answer poll questions – who continue to support a man whose dishonesty and mendacity are unsurpassed in the presidency.

  2. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 05/05/2018 - 08:41 am.

    i watched several long interviews with James Cpmey (MSNBC, CNN, PBS, The New Yorker) as he toured his book recently. But I wonder: Did he appear on Fox TV? Did “Trump TV” (Chris Hayes’ characterization of that network) even permit this Truth Teller to appear, and contradict Trump out loud and exensively, in his calm manner? Or, did they limit themselves to screamers like the woman o Fox TV last Saturday night who ranted and raved at “Jim” for all human sins since the Garden Serpent. (I was aghast at that woman; she literally shouted angrily at “Jim” for a huge chunk of time; vicious and an insult to democratic discourse).

    I have seen–this, on CNN, which masochistically keeps putting right-wingers and Trump supporters on its panels, resulting in shouting matches–Trumpites attacking James Comey as a liar (national consensus: he definitely does not lie) and a leaker of his own memo (he gave one to a friend so he could give it to the press), and the FBI and the Mueller probe as “witch hunt” agents.

    Do the American people believe those Trumpite lies? Has there been polling of how ignorant Trump’s supporters intend to keep themselves about their president?

    Need I add: There is no one in Washington, D.C. who leaks more than GOP Congressmen.

  3. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/05/2018 - 02:23 pm.

    Not genius

    The intellectual characteristics of Trump’s supporters have been documented several times over the decades in many formats. If I remember correctly I read MY first book on the subject in 1982 or so, the title was: “Thunder on the Right: The New Right and the Politics of Resentment” by Alan Crawford, that book was published in 1981. More recently we have Max Blumenthal’s: “Republican Gomorrah”. There have been dozens of books an hundreds of articles in between the these two books. This is who Trump is, it’s where he came from, and it’s who his supporters are. No genius had to discover anything here.

    The relative stability of Trumps following is no mystery either. There are thousands of article in the journals about the human capacity to dismiss inconvenient or disconfirmatory information. If you can find a copy, one of my favorites is Leon Festinger’s: “When Prophecy Fails”. It’s a seminal work from the 1950s that was one of the first examinations of inoculated belief systems.

    Suffice to say that unless something truly catastrophic happens to Trump, his support will never drop below 30%-35% and will likely remain stable at around this rate until he leaves office.

  4. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/06/2018 - 08:43 am.

    I believe Comey but…

    I don’t believe Comey because I trust him, nor do I admire him in any way. The stunt he pulled 11 days before the election regarding Clinton’s emails was a unmitigated disgrace and his “explanation” is ridiculous. I do believe he thought Clinton was going to win, and for that reason I think he was doing his part to send her into the White House under cloud that Republican would exploit for months or years. He was handing then a new Benghazi. On the other hand, it is possible that he faced the dilemma he’s described, but simply didn’t have the intellectual acuity to cope with THAT dilemma. He’s obviously not a stupid person, but he doesn’t necessarily strike as a nimble intellect.

    Be all that as it may, I believe his accounts regarding Trump simply because Trump himself and his behavior tend to confirm those accounts. Trump’s focus on personal loyalty has been confirmed repeatedly since he’s taken office. Likewise his behavior is perfectly consistent with the behavior Comey describes. The behavior of his “team” is also perfectly consistent ( for instance focusing on the optics of Russian interference rather than the national security implications) with Comey’s account. I don’t think Comey is creative enough to fabricate credible Trump reactions, like asking if he “looks” like a guy who need prostitutes instead of simply dismissing the claim. To my mind, Trump actually makes Comey’s accounts credible, despite Comey’s credibility problems.

  5. Submitted by Misty Martin on 05/07/2018 - 09:10 am.

    I have no problem whatsoever, in believing James Comey.

    I voted for Hillary Clinton, yet I have no problem at all in believing in my heart of hearts, that James Comey is an honorable man. I read his book and found it very credible. I truly believe he was put in a hard place and he did what he believed was the best option in a no-win situation. He sticks to his already released statements about what went down, on every televised interview that I have watched him on. Try and see if President Trump or any of his staff ever maintain that standard of steadfastness. The truth is easy to remember – lies must be covered up by other lies, which lead to more lies, etc.

    If blame as to be assigned, and what good will it do us at this point, this far from the 2016 election –
    it might be the shared laptop computer used by Hillary Clinton’s vice chair of her 2016 campaign, Huma Abedin, and her emotionally sick husband, Anthony Weiner. And I feel that Ms. Abedin has suffered enough already.

    We must now go forward, though why the President’s approval rating still remains at the percentage that it is now, remains a mystery, at least to me.

  6. Submitted by Misty Martin on 05/07/2018 - 09:24 am.

    And as a follow-up to my last comment, I just read that . . .

    in the fact checker analysis section, gathered and composed by Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly, for The Washington Post, entitled “President Trump has made 3,001 false or misleading claims so far” it lists the 3,001 false or misleading claims in the 466 days since President Trump has taken office.

    Former FBI Director, James Comey, stated in his book, “A Higher Loyalty” and in his televised interviews, that our present President is “morally unfit” for office, although he does not advocate impeachment.

    At least, 3,001 false or misleading claims so far . . . that ties in to what I earlier said about lies having to be covered up by more lies, etc., etc., etc. According to the approval rating for President Trump, one would have to assume, that perhaps those followers and supporters of President Trump, don’t appear to mind being lied to and are not interested in knowing the facts. It’s hard to say.

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