or… He may be a POS, but he’s OUR POS

Reports that Trump had an affair/fling/one-nighter with a porn star back in 2006, and that one of his lawyers paid her some hush money via some shell companies, have been largely greeted with a collective sigh and ho-hum from most quarters of the politico-sphere. Trump’s supporters either wave it off as “never happened” or “why should I care about consensual sex from a decade ago,” Trump’s liberal detractors are showing some skittishness, perhaps because it’s too blatantly easy to call them out for hypocrisy given the past peccadilloes of their own presidents and elder statesmen, and most of the rest of us are “why would anyone be shocked by this?”

The greatest noise seems to be coming from NeverTrump conservatives, who (not unjustly) ponder the blind eye that social conservatives and other main-line Republicans are turning to this latest bit of scandal, given that they were quite loud in griping about Bill Clinton’s predations. That pondering is itself a bit blind, in that the answer to the question is easily discerned by past history.

In brief, Trump’s supporters know he’s a piece of shit in a number of ways, but they don’t care. Why would they not care? Because, both in his actions and in the fact of his election itself, he’s giving them what they hoped for when they voted for him.

I recently wrote of something I dubbed the Joy Behar rule, based on the talk show host’s affirmation that she supports Bill Clinton despite his sexual misconduct because he advances policies she likes. Tribal politics is not the sole province of either end of the political spectrum, and it is a well-known Saul Alinsky tactic to make the enemy play by its own rules, so it’s quite understandable that Trump’s fans are giving him a bye for cheating on his wife with a porn star. Not moral or ethical, but understandable.

Moreso, there’s the element of fatigue from the elevation of every single questionable word, deed or tweet to a scandal of biblical proportions by a mainstream press that’s abandoned journalism in favor of blatant political bias. Thus, many who support Trump are showing skepticism of allegations that, at this juncture, seem to be backed by some actual journalism. The sky-is-falling overreaction to everything has deadened many to the press’s exhortations, even when they’re accurate, and it has also established a reactionary contrarianism, where anything heard from a known Trump critic or skeptic is presumed false until (and even if) proven otherwise. Indeed, the counter-reaction often seems dialed up to the same level of exuberance, with countless “thank God for President Trump” proclamations flying around the Internet.

A lot of this is public-face stuff from Trump loyalists. It’s hard to imagine they’re truly oblivious to Trump’s flaws, bad utterances, etc, and it’s much easier to consider that they see the reality but don’t want to publicly cede an inch lest the hard-line opposition benefit. Deep down, I expect that they know what he is, that they don’t care, that they have an “already baked in” view wherein they shrug such scandals off with a “yes, we already know what he is, but he’s ours. And, all these politicians are the same anyway, and we’re MUCH better off with him than with Clinton or another Democrat in charge.”

The problems that Trump’s skeptics, critics, and detractors face are twofold. First, they are operating from a playbook that expects scandals to have an expected effect. Second, they’ve overplayed their hand in many ways. Both are understandable. Trump is such an anomaly, such a square peg, that it’s easy to fall into all this thinking, and into reacting hard every time he does what he does. But, screaming more loudly after your previous scream went unheeded is not how one wins hearts and minds.

This is the reality of the Trump presidency. If critics and skeptics want to accomplish anything, it’s past time for a combination of “less is more” when it comes to criticism and some intellectual honesty when he gets something right.

Doing so means risking that some ideological opponents act like sore winners, and start up with “told you so” football-spiking. But, so what? If the goal is to win hearts and minds, let the other person act the jackass. Otherwise all that’ll happen is that the entrenched on both sides will continue to simply dig deeper and snipe every more coarsely at each other, while those who hope for some sanity to return to the political landscape will grow increasingly disgusted and disenchanted. Scandal fatigue is real, and like any other fatigue, taking a break and getting some rest is the only remedy.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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