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Trump Is More In Touch Than You Think

Results of the new NPR/PBS Marist poll are pretty surprising for we who have relied on the media to accurately report on the mindset of the country. It’s not that the numbers are good for Trump; they’re not. It’s that it hasn’t been nearly the disaster you would have expected. Here are the complete results. [1] Highlights:


So, what are the lessons here? I can think of a few:

  1. The news media have been seriously distorting public reaction to Trump’s handling of Charlottesville. Whether this is a matter of only seeing what they want to see, or a matter of the talking heads being concentrated among coastal elites of both parties, is a matter of conjecture. True, a slight majority of Americans think Trump didn’t go far enough, but judging from the coverage and commentary, you would have thought at Charlottesville, Trump met his Waterloo. It didn’t happen. Charlottesville is not nearly a big a deal to Americans as it is to the media and coastal elites.
  2. Trump’s disapproval rating is very high, but Charlottesville didn’t really move the needle. And he’s kept his base.
  3. Continuing to attack Confederate statues is a big loser for Democrats and liberals. A strong majority of Americans favors keeping them standing. Only liberals want to see them go. When even 44 percent of African-Americans favor leaving the statues alone, the take-them-down faction of the Left has a serious echo chamber problem.
  4. This is likely to cause them to seriously overreach. If Democrats and liberals only pay attention to the media and to each other on the statue debate, they are going to alienate a lot of people. The hostile media environment has made it very difficult for anybody to speak up for keeping the statues, even though that is a majority opinion in America. So people will keep that opinion to themselves.
  5. In turn, they may very well stew on it, angry at the liberal gatekeepers of respectable opinion either not caring about their opinion, or shutting them down as racists.
  6. Do not underestimate the power of cultural symbols to drive voter behavior.
  7. Americans have no trouble condemning white supremacists and the far right, while at the same time supporting the statues. Americans probably do not believe they are racist for wanting the statues to remain in place.
  8. Charlottesville was the first time most Americans will have been introduced to both Antifa and the Alt-Right.
  9. Trump remains an extremely divisive figure. For any Commander in Chief, the idea that six out of 10 Americans do not trust your leadership in an international crisis is potentially destabilizing.
  10. And, it’s telling that younger voters are half as likely to back Trump’s handling of Charlottesville than older voters. This is not terribly surprising, but it points to long-term problems the GOP faces reaching the young after Trump departs the scene. One way or another, Trump will leave a strong legacy when his presidency ends — one that the Republican Party will be dealing with for a long time.

UPDATE: Oh wow. A black CNN commentator, Angela Rye, said this today on the air: [2]

“The heart of the problem is the way many of us were taught American history. American history is not all glorious. I love John to death, I couldn’t disagree more about George Washington. George Washington was a slave owner. We need to call slave owners out for what they are. Whether we think they were protecting American freedom or not. He wasn’t protecting my freedom. I wasn’t someone – my ancestors weren’t deemed human beings to him. To me, I don’t care if it’s a George Washington statue or a Thomas Jefferson statue or a Robert E. Lee statue, they all need to come down…I’m calling out white supremacy for what it is. And sometimes, what it is, John, are blind spots. Sometimes what it is, is not acknowledging this country was built upon a very violent past that resulted in the death and the raping and the killing of my ancestors. I’m not going to allow us to say it’s okay for Robert E. Lee but not a George Washington. We need to call it what it is.”

Here we go. That’s the thing about the Left: the Law Of Merited Impossibility — “It will never happen, and when it does, you bigots will deserve it” — has infallible predictive powers.

217 Comments (Open | Close)

217 Comments To "Trump Is More In Touch Than You Think"

#1 Comment By A Libertarian Guy On August 18, 2017 @ 6:54 pm

Somewhere on this thread someone stated:

“40% of the officer corp in the Virginia’s militia sided with the Union. [Robert E.] Lee chose treason.”

I bring up that quote only to clear up a misconception about treason. Treason is, by definition, a crime against one’s own country. When General Lee led Confederate troupes into battle against the United States (the “North” or the “Union”), Lee was a Citizen of the Confederate States of America (the “South”), not the United States of America.

There’s no such thing as committing treason against a country that one is no longer a part of.

As for secession, the United States was founded by people who had seceded from England. Based on the definition of treason in Article 3, Section 3 of the US Constitution, secession is not treason.

#2 Comment By pepi On August 18, 2017 @ 8:28 pm

I would support removal of statues of Confederate leaders from places of special honor (governmental properties like court houses, capitol buildings and the like as well as major public parks) but preserve them. I would not support removal of statues or monuments that honor groups of soldiers nor of founding fathers.

Alternatively, I would support retaining some statues if memorials were constructed that honored or told the story of slaves and their descendants in the same park or general area so that “history and heritage” is better balanced.

I do think compromises are possible.

#3 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 18, 2017 @ 8:38 pm

He was the author of the Dred Scott decision, regarded as the among the worst errors in the history of American Law.

It wasn’t an error as a matter of law. It was superceded by a Civil War (initiated by men who approved of Taney’s ruling, and lost), and by three constitutional amendments. I suspect most people I know in Maryland would want that statue taken down, and few others would really care. Why not?

We could also point out that his lands were bought to form the basis of Arlington National cemetery.

Was he paid for the land? It was initially occupied as a matter of military necessity for the defense of Washington, then used as a cemetery as the military theater shifted permanently southward.

Who’s got time to build new statues? We’ve got to start stocking up on ropes for all those traitors signing the Calexit petitions.

Of course. The arguments against secession in 1860 are still good today. Lenin would never have allowed California to secede.

G. Washington with aid from his friends beat the number one world class power of his time with a ragtag army. Today’s liberals would not defend their country because it might inconvenience an invader. Give me a break!

Neither would today’s Nazis, because they might get injured. And if they lost, someone might confiscate their guns.

Do you realize that the past, starting from yesterday, has been actually abolished? If it survives anywhere, it’s in a few solid objects with no words attached to them, like that lump of glass there. Already we know almost literally nothing about the Revolution and the years before the Revolution. Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, every date has been altered.

And as we know, this fictional paradigm describes exactly what happened in Russia, where nobody today remembers the Romanovs, the Russian Orthodox Church, the names of Denikin and Kolchak, or for that matter, the names of Lenin and Stalin, its all been totally erased from the collective and individual memory of every Russian and every ethnicity or nation bordering Russia.


Before people get too infatuated with George Orwell, its worth remembering that he was an adherent of a Spanish faction that Bad Religion and his antifa comrades would probably glory to identify with: Partido Obrero de Unification Marxista. (POUM was a prime target in the latter days of the Spanish Civil War of the political commissars charged with rooting out rival factions on the Republican side — which is largely where Orwell got his antipathies from. I’ve heard of a few Americans in the Abraham Lincoln brigades who were killed, not by fascist bullets, but by POUM engaging in political infighting in the face of the enemy.)

#4 Comment By JR On August 18, 2017 @ 9:06 pm

“Results of the new NPR/PBS Marist poll are pretty surprising for we who have relied on the media to accurately report on the mindset of the country.”

It’s only “pretty surprising” for those like you have imbibed from the media machine just as long they provided you with material for your unhinged Trump tirades.

And what’s with this “Wow” I’m so shocked at what Angela Rye said about Washington and Jefferson?!

This is old stuff and is no shock who to those who understand the implications of the southern statue destruction.

#5 Comment By mightywhig On August 19, 2017 @ 6:56 am

Good article. The polls don’t matter; committed minorities drive the agenda. Most Chinese probably disapproved of the cultural revolution, but they got it anyway.

#6 Comment By Myles On August 19, 2017 @ 11:14 am

Taking down the statue of Washington is just the logical extension of Lee statue take downs. Jefferson must be included also. The names of the capital city and the state bearing Washington’s name must be changed. The White House must be renamed, repainted, and possibly relocated. When Faith is lost Reason follows.

#7 Comment By somebody else On August 19, 2017 @ 8:25 pm

I agree that Trump is more in touch than most people realize. Too bad Trump isn’t President.

#8 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 19, 2017 @ 9:50 pm

Its a shame CNN allows chatterboxes like Angela Rye to parade their ignorance of history on live TV. The ideology of “white supremacy” hadn’t come to fruition at the time George Washington lived. There were still “white” people “bound to service” and it was not nearly as hard as it became later for people of African descent to buy or otherwise obtain their freedom. It was not unknown that Africans were held for a term of years, rather than for life, particularly in New England and Pennsylvania — which is why there were dark brown freeholders carrying arms in the militia at Lexington and Concord. Like most of his generation, Washington was quite befuddled about what do about slavery, but eliminating a pervasive institution is not done as easily as writing about it a century or more after it was abolished.

Bottom line, the revolution of 1776 established standards under which slavery stuck out like a sore thumb, and abolishing it became a serious issue. Before that, various forms of servitude and subordination were just life, suck it up and get used to it. Only nobody had to say that, because everyone HAD been used to it. Lots of things started percolating because of our war of independence.

The counter-revolution of 1861 was a deliberate attempt to derail all that new thinking before it reached the point of abolishing slavery. Common confederate songs had words like “For this land of liberty I do not give a damn,” and “I hate the Declaration of Independence too…”

There’s no such thing as committing treason against a country that one is no longer a part of.

There is also no such thing in the Constitution of the United States as legal secession, and there was no such legitimate entity as the confederate states of America. One thing that upset my ancestors is that a gang of elite thugs were hanging their friends and neighbors for loyalty to the nation they had been citizens of since birth.

#9 Comment By Bello On August 20, 2017 @ 12:02 pm

@Jack B. Nimble – “The image of R.E. Lee as a kindly southern gentleman and devout Christian […] The truth is rather different:”

The author of that Lee piece you cite in the Atlantic used to work for Mother Jones. Under its current leadership the poor old Atlantic’s reputation has been circling the toilet faster and faster. There are academically respectable hatchet jobs on Lee, and if you feel obliged to blackguard him, you’re best advised to cite them rather than some leftist hack in the Atlantic.

#10 Comment By DGJ On August 20, 2017 @ 3:15 pm

Those who think violence and political upheaval will end if we remove all the Confederate statues are sadly mistaken. Instead such removals will spark greater conflicts that will destroy many lives, careers and communities.


#11 Comment By JonF On August 20, 2017 @ 5:07 pm

Re: Most Chinese probably disapproved of the cultural revolution, but they got it anyway.

You are aware that there are some pretty massive differences between the government of the United States and that of Mao’s China.

#12 Comment By JonF On August 20, 2017 @ 5:10 pm

Re: It wasn’t an error as a matter of law.

The foundation of the decision was Taney’s assertion that slaves were not legal persons and thus had no legal recourse. Nothing in the Constitution supports that proposition. It was his opinion only (OK, shared by millions of others, but stlll…)

#13 Comment By en marche On August 20, 2017 @ 5:21 pm

@elizabeth : “We have failed to properly educate the entire nation’s young about the causes of the Civil War and the aftermath.”

Indeed we have. The overwhelming majority of southerners who joined the Confederate Army did so to defend states and families from an evil invading army whose purpose had nothing to do with freeing slaves (just read their diaries) and everything to do with killing and dispossessing southerners. The confederates fought hard and often nobly but failed to prevent that army from defeating them. Still, the survivors rose to honor their honorable dead, and they will continue to do so.

“Germany remembers its Nazi past with a rigorous curriculum throughout the school years. Children must visit a concentration camp at least once before graduating. “

False. I know several young Germans instructors at the Ivy League school where I teach. None had to visit a concentration camp before receiving either their abitur or more advanced degrees. Something like this was apparently done ad hoc in one German state.

No just cause is advanced by lying or distorting reality, elizabeth.

“These brats who are fans of ethnic cleansing descended on a democratically elected local government which had decided to remove the statue of Lee.”

Charlottesville has changed quite a bit over the last decade or two. It is ceasing to be a southern or even a Virginian city, in that increasingly few of its “citizens” were even born there. Indeed, the “democratically-elected” vice mayor (one of the statue-removal drivers) is from Atlanta, not Charlottesville. He’s quite a sterling fellow. Have you seen and do you approve his tweets about white folk?:

I always feel sorry for the black kid growing up around alooooot of white people…

white chicks the devil

Lol funniest thing about being down south is seeing little white men and the look on their faces when they have to look up to you.

I hate seeing white people in Orangeburg


White women=Devil

and other edifying remarks, more vile than anything we’ve had from Trump:


That’s your “democratically-elected local government”, elizabeth.

“Yes, the Russians extracted a heavy and cruel revenge, but you don’t hear them whining about it.”

In other words, when the Commies lay on a beating and mass rape, best lie back and enjoy it. Right? Nice kinda people up there in “democratically elected” Charlottesville …

#14 Comment By LouB On August 21, 2017 @ 9:39 am

CNN and their ilk have doubled down on the big lie procedure. The left has a campus radical perspective that they don’t grow out of. Whether they are in a small minority, they use the cable / broadcast / Hollywood cinema machine / public school pulpit to rail against all things traditional. What is unsettling for me is the attempt at Leninist erasure of the culture to provide a vacuum for it’s replacement.

#15 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 21, 2017 @ 7:15 pm

The foundation of the decision was Taney’s assertion that slaves were not legal persons and thus had no legal recourse. Nothing in the Constitution supports that proposition.

Both of those propositions are dubious — the kind of thing people pop up with third hand when they haven’t looked closely at contemporary sources. Rather like saying that the constitution described slaves or people of African descent as “three fifths of a person,” when the point was to restrict the slave states counting the full number of their slaves to determine the number of congressional representatives that would be elected by the state’s white males owning a certain minimum of property.

So let’s look at the original language:

“4. A free negro of the African race, whose ancestors were brought to this country and sold as slaves, is not a “citizen” within the meaning of the Constitution of the United States.

5. When the Constitution was adopted, they were not regarded in any of the States as members of the community which constituted the State, and were not numbered among its “people or citizens.” Consequently, the special rights and immunities guarantied to citizens do not apply to them. And not being “citizens” within the meaning of the Constitution, they are not entitled to sue in that character in a court of the United States”

The sweeping category “all states” is questionable, since there were free voting citizens of African descent in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, but certainly a large number of states did not consider them to be full citizens.

8. A State, by its laws passed since the adoption of the Constitution, may put a foreigner or any other description of persons upon a footing with its own citizens as to all the rights and privileges enjoyed by them within its dominion and by its laws. But that will not make him a citizen of the United States, nor entitle him to sue in its courts, nor to any of the privileges and immunities of a citizen in another State.

It would have been difficult to make out a case under the Constitution as it then existed that a citizen of Massachusetts, traveling to Louisiana, would be treated as a citizen of the United States, rather than as a free colored person under the laws of Louisiana.

What is truly dubious about Dred Scott is Taney’s assertion that “The clause in the Constitution authorizing Congress to make all needful rules and regulations for the government of the territory and other property of the United States applies only to territory within the chartered limits of some one of the States when they were colonies of Great Britain.”

Now that he made up, because the meaning of “territory” is nowhere so conditioned in the constitution. On the other hand, many questioned whether President Jefferson had the constitutional authority to purchase new territory for the United States at all.

An interesting point that is often overlooked is that Taney referred to “citizens of the United States” as a status. This refutes those who claim that before the civil war, there was no such thing, only citizenship of a state, and that it was changes wrought by war which created the concept of “Citizens of the United States.”

Congress have no right to prohibit the citizens of any particular State or States from taking up their home there while it permits citizens of other States to do so. Nor has it a right to give privileges to one class of citizens which it refuses to another.

This I suggest has the same infirmity as Obergefell. Taney implicitly defined “slaveholders” and “nonslaveholders” as classes that must be treated equally, rather than, recognizing that if ALL are prohibited from bringing slaves into the territories, then nobody has been denied “the equal protection of the laws.” The fact that some people WANT to bring slaves into the territories does not make them, ipso facto, a class that has been denied equal protection. Every law creates a class of people who want to do what the law forbids, or want to refrain from doing what the law requires. That doesn’t ipso facto, make them a class entitled to equal protection.

But it was true that people of African descent generally, and enslaved people in particular, were far from full citizens of any state except possibly Massachusetts at the time the constitution was ratified. And it took a constitutional amendment to make the contrary legally mandatory in all states.

Taking down the statue of Washington is just the logical extension of Lee statue take downs. Jefferson must be included also.

As someone already said, here or elsewhere, there is a huge difference between celebrating a flawed man and celebrating a man’s flaws.

#16 Comment By JonF On August 24, 2017 @ 5:09 pm

The issue was not citizenship, which I agree was poorly defined and much confused at the time. The issue was personhood: non-citizens certainly had legal recourse in the United States, they could sue in court for torts done them and criminal acts against them were punished by law just as such acts against citizens were.
Taney did not allow that Dred Scott had any more legal recourse than livestock would. That did not come from the text of the Constitution, but from the extra-constitutional definition of slaves as “chattel”.
The Dred Scott case was a deliberate set-up, just like Roe vs Wade (Scott’s owner bought him precisely to create the case and he was freed afterward). The hope was to get the Court on record as accepting that slaves were still legal persons and had some legal recourse. Taney’s refusal to allow that affirmed the most extreme definitions of slavery, one which it hard to imagine the Founding Fathers approving.

#17 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 28, 2017 @ 12:16 pm

JonF, your argument is plausible, but not definitive. Its true that the meaning of slavery was left somewhat vague, in part because the Founding Fathers, unlike many of their sons and grandsons, delicately tried to tip-toe around it. They knew it was an embarrassment when calling for “liberty,” they were for the most part not comfortable with it, but they weren’t willing to make significant sacrifices to end it, and punted, hoping it would fade away with time. Which it might have done, had expansion east of the Appalachians been prohibited, and if such a prohibition had proved to be enforceable. Also if the cotton gin hadn’t come along when it did.

It was accepted law that slavery is only permissible where it is authorized by “municipal legislation,” or, more broadly, there is no natural or inherent right to own slaves, a statute has to specifically authorize it. But many states did authorize it. And in those states, enslaved persons were chattel. The constitution did not authorize or recognize this condition, but it did explicitly acknowledge it.

Thurgood Marshall wrote (not in a formal court decision) that the constitution was a flawed document until the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments were ratified — for the very reasons we are discussing here. Taney went further than the controversy before the court required, and we now recognize the substance of his ruling as morally abhorrent. But, at the time, it was not outside the boundaries of constitutional jurisprudence. Which is precisely why it all came down to civil war, and constitutional amendments that probably could not have been ratified without the intervention of that war.