President Donald Trump has an ace in the hole for the 2020 election: The media elite cannot keep their contempt for Trump voters under wraps.
On Sunday, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd penned a sentence that perfectly encapsulates this disdain for fellow citizens.
“Mitch McConnell, Barr and almost everyone else in the G.O.P.,” Dowd opined, “have made themselves numb to [Trump’s] abhorrent actions because of self-interest.”
There you have it: In Dowd’s world - and Dowd is one of the tribunes of the Manhattan-Beltway media elite - almost every person who supports Trump today does so because of self-interest. Read “self-interest” as “greed” or a “lust for power or position,” or however you care to read it. By Dowd’s assessment, no one can possibly support Trump without being corrupt.
Ignored is the fact that Trump has delivered on his crucial pledges concerning the judiciary and defense spending. Trump has put 100-plus judges on the federal bench, including two on the Supreme Court, 41 on federal circuit courts (with two more confirmations pending), and dozens and dozens on federal trial courtss. He’s strongly supported dramatic increases in defense spending.
The roaring economy, and the tax cuts and deregulation that power it, speaks for itself. But for Dowd and her colleagues in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and Silicon Valley, none of this record matters. To support Trump is to be morally flawed. Let’s face it, most of the media thinks most of Trump supporters are stupid or evil. Incredibly, secular elites have appointed themselves judges of moral character.
Trump’s record is far from perfect, of course. The aluminum and steel tariffs on allies were awful choices. The pipeline of nominees to the circuit courts has inexplicably run dry. There is still no serious, detailed plan to get to the 355-ship Navy fleet Trump promised. Most of his supporters wish for him to lay off Twitter and his personal attacks on opponents, even when those opponents swing at him daily. They would prefer the president take his “no collusion, no obstruction” win and pocket it while talking endlessly about the economy, the judges, the defense budget and deregulation.
Still, there are far more positives than negatives. Despite his biggest mistakes - the media are not the “enemy of the people” and should not be labeled thus; his indifference to staffing the government is sometimes maddening and a few of his appointees were simply not qualified - Trump has generally kept the promises he made during the campaign.
Dowd’s damning indictment calls to mind Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” comment. Americans outside of New York City, Washington, Los Angeles and Silicon Valley deeply resent the contempt these elites have for ordinary people.
That contempt, when openly displayed, always boomerangs. Dowd is channeling the left’s searing disdain for the “great silent majority,” which was there in the days of Richard Nixon and which showed up again in 2016. For 50 years the left has been flipping off the apolitical as well as the quiet moderate and conservative citizens who go to work and church, who raise families in somewhat prosaic fashion. But who also vote. Regularly.
To be accused of supporting Trump for evil reasons is of course to be accused of doing evil. To refuse to acknowledge the legitimate principles and policies that motivate millions of Trump voters is to brand all Trump supporters as without principles.
This contempt of the left for ordinary Americans is not new. We saw it directed at President George W. Bush (the stupid cowboy) his father (“the wimp factor”), President Ronald Reagan (another cowboy) President Gerald Ford (“played football without a helmet”) and President Richard Nixon (“Tricky Dick” decades before Watergate). The media conveniently forgets that every Republican president has had to campaign and govern against both the Democrats and their auxiliary troops in the Manhattan-Beltway media elite.
Insults and invective are not how you win elections, though they are great at winning applause and handshakes from other elites.
Hugh Hewitt is a columnist with The Washington Post.