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Why Trump fans stick to him: Chris Cuomo’s theory

“He is not in office because people put him on a pedestal,” Cuomo says. “He is there because they think his flaws make him a perfect fit.”

President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump hugging the American flag at the Conservative Political Action Conference annual meeting on Saturday.
REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Washington Post “Fact-Checker” Glenn Kessler reports that Donald Trump, during his astonishing, breathtaking two-hour-plus on-script, off-script brag-a-thon and insult-a-palooza at CPAC on Sunday, made more than 100 false or misleading claims.

Of course, I should be shocked, as should everyone who would like to believe in the possibility of a tad more honesty in our politics. But how shocked can we still be at this point? Kessler also wrote in yesterday’s Post that, as the Fact-Checker crew tallies it, the number of falsehoods Trump utters has risen steadily from 5.9 a day during his first year in office, to 16.5 a day during 2018 to 22 a day so far in 2019. And yet …

As regular Black Ink visitors know, I’m fairly obsessed with Trump’s approval ratings. I’ve cut down on how often I update that tale because it is so boring. And it is so boring because it basically doesn’t change. Relying, as I have done of late, on the average of many approval polls maintained by the esteemed political number crunchers at fivethirtyeight.com. Here’s the latest:

Under water by 11 points

As of Monday afternoon, Trump was “under water” (more disapprovers than approvers) by 11 points (53.4 disapproval/42.1 approval). He had a little dip right after he “caved” on the government shutdown, but he recovered soon after and returned to the very narrow range he has inhabited for two years.

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(On March 16, 2017, his second month in office, after a very short approval “honeymoon,” Trump’s disapproval number first broke above 50 percent, and it’s never been higher than 57 nor lower than 51 since. My “updates” are always the same. His numbers are very bad, but unchanged. Here’s the full two-year graph by 538.)

What accounts for it? Either those 40-some percent of approvers don’t care how much Trump lies, or they spend so much of their waking hours watching Fox News, reading Trump-friendly websites, or communing with fellow Trumpers on social media that they are basically able to not hear or to disbelieve all of the evidence of the lying. I don’t claim to know how much of which.

But CNN’s Chris Cuomo does claim to know. So I thought I’d pass along his explanation. In the “closing argument” segment from his “Chris Cuomo Live” show that aired after the day of Michael Cohen’s testimony (during which Cohen, himself a confessed liar, testified about many, many, many Trump lies, some of them easily proven by unassailable documentation).

‘They expect no better’

Cuomo asserted that “Trump supporters shrug at lies because they expect no better from a politician. … Why aren’t they outraged? Don’t they care?” he asked.

Cuomo says they care, but: “The people who support this president voted for him because they expect nothing better from a politician. That’s the problem. … Outrage requires surprise. Failed expectations. Trump folks and many others … have zero respect for the political culture and the people in it. So when the opposition and even the media come to them and say, he lied, don’t support this, they shake their heads. They say, ‘You are no better. Who are you to criticize him?’

“So when any come and say that Trump is bad, [Trump’s supporters] say ‘compared to who?’

“Don’t merely hate the player, hate the game …

“This president is more metaphor than man, in some ways, all the flaws in one package …

“People thinking this kind of politics stinks doesn’t mean they want it that way. Your challenge is to show you are better. Do it. … Fight for the right things and let people know it. And do it the right way. Don’t duck the questions. Tell the truth. Or at least tell people why you can’t tell them what they want to know. Don’t spin everything that’s uncomfortable. … People see it for what it is. …

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“So even if you prove all these things about his taxes and his personal life, that he knew that his pals were trying to take advantage of Russian interference. Even if you prove all that and more, you won’t turn the people who support him and you won’t surprise his party members. You saw it in the hearing.

“You will not beat this president by pulling down his reputation. … He is not in office because people put him on a pedestal. He is there because they think his flaws make him a perfect fit. Don’t hate the players; hate the game.

“Recognize that this president is a metaphor for what our system has become. … They will be there for you if you are there for them. They are desperate for it.”

I couldn’t find a transcript of this, so I transcribed the excerpts above myself and may have made errors. The full Cuomo sermon is 5:44 long. Watch it for yourself here.

I’ve not been a big fan of Cuomo’s before. I liked his passion in this one, and I’d like to believe some of what he said. Not sure.

It always worked for Jimmy Stewart.