Thursday, December 19, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He lost (some more) evangelicals.

Trump has had an interesting few days where the subject of religion is concerned. Last week, he told Jewish Americans they had to vote for him because they loved money and he'd help them keep theirs. On Tuesday, he accused Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a devout Catholic, of lying and "offending Americans of faith" when she said she prayed for him. He compared himself to the victims of the Salem witch trials, in which the victims were accused of being in league with Satan. Yesterday, he reveled in a Republican congressman's claim that Jesus Christ had been treated more fairly by Pontius Pilate than Trump was by Congressional Democrats.

And last night, in front of an audibly shocked Michigan campaign rally crowd, he suggested that the late Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) was in hell. Trump has now said publicly twice in a week that he's angry with John Dingell's widow, Rep. Debbie Dingell, for voting to impeach him even though she was polite in a courtesy call after her late husband's funeral. 

Attempting today to get ahead of the metastasizing Dingell story, Trump sent his seldom-seen press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, out with a defense: he's a "counterpuncher." But even Grisham, who had to carefully avoid actually apologizing on Trump's behalf, seemed unwilling to really commit to defending Trump on this point:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: I want to move on to the President's comments about Congressman Dingell last night... It's drawing rebukes from many Democrats but also from Republicans. Cindy McCain has tweeted on it this morning. Fred Upton, one of the senior Republican congressmen from Michigan, has also put up a tweet... He says, "I've always looked up to John Dingell, my good friend and a great Michigan legend. There was no need to diss him in a crass political way. Most unfortunate and an apology is due." Will the President apologize to the Dingell family?
GRISHAM: I haven't spoken to the President about that. I would say that I'm very very sorry for her loss. And I would thank her and I would thank her late husband for all of the service to our country. Uh, the President did lower the flags at the White House to half staff to do everything he could to honor him at her request. Uh, so we'll see what happens from there. We do thank them for their service, and again, very very sorry for her loss. 
STEPHANOPOULOS: Why do you think the President said that overnight? 
GRISHAM: Uh, you'd have to talk to the president about that. He was at a political rally. He has been under attack, and under impeachment attack, for the last few months, and then just under attack politically for the last two and a half years. Uh, I think that as we all know, the president is a counter-puncher. ...He was just riffing on some of the things that had been happening the past few days.

Today, Christianity Today—a major online magazine for evangelical Christians founded by archconservative preacher Billy Graham—called for Trump to be removed from office

But the facts in this instance are unambiguous: The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral. 
The reason many are not shocked about this is that this president has dumbed down the idea of morality in his administration. He has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals. He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud. His Twitter feed alone—with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders—is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused. 
...We believe the impeachment hearings have made it absolutely clear, in a way the Mueller investigation did not, that President Trump has abused his authority for personal gain and betrayed his constitutional oath. The impeachment hearings have illuminated the president’s moral deficiencies for all to see. This damages the institution of the presidency, damages the reputation of our country, and damages both the spirit and the future of our people. None of the president’s positives can balance the moral and political danger we face under a leader of such grossly immoral character.

Trump is twice divorced, has appeared in pornography and bragged openly about his extramarital sexual habits, has on at least one occasion forgotten what Christian denomination he's supposedly part of, and has rarely if ever been seen in a church outside of a political context.

Why does this matter?

  • Evangelical Christian voters don't like being treated like chumps and taken for granted any more than anyone else does.