Last November, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd offered up her space in the paper to her brother Kevin.
It’s become something of a Thanksgiving tradition, one in which Ms. Dowd’s brother explains to his sister’s mostly progressive-minded audience why he supports Donald Trump. He’s not the only one of Ms. Dowd’s siblings who does.
Mr. Dowd’s latest offering was particularly insightful, coming as it did on the eve of an election year, one expected to include a fight for the presidency that will be ugly, raucous and deeply depressing. Listen to his rationale, for instance, for continuing to back a president maligned around the world as erratic and dangerous.
“I support the president for his economy, his jobless rate and the record numbers of the stock market that his deregulation fuelled,” Mr. Dowd wrote. “I feel safe in my bed with the way the president is handling Iran and North Korea.”
Those two sentences, I believe, encompass the feelings that many Trump boosters have for the man. Yes, he’s unorthodox, rough around the edges, maybe even a touch senile, but his brand of politics works for a vast number of Americans. And if nothing else, the last couple of weeks have only cemented the conviction many have that his often no-holds-barred style of governing is precisely what the country needs.
It could be reasonably argued, in fact, that Mr. Trump has just enjoyed the most successful fortnight of his presidency.
It started with the Jan. 3 drone strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s top general, widely regarded as a ruthless thug responsible for the death of tens of thousands of people, including a number of Americans. For many, it matters not that there was no pressing reason for the attack, one which had the potential to set off a chain reaction of events that shook the world. Instead, in an incident that Iran has said was accidental, it shot down a Ukrainian jet liner with 176 people aboard, the majority of whom were from Iran – and everything changed.
Suddenly, Iranians weren’t chanting “Death to America” anymore. They were calling for the heads of many of those in their own government. Mr. Trump could scarcely believe his good fortune. (He even tweeted about Iranian protesters refusing to stomp on an American flag laid out on a downtown street.)
Mr. Soleimani’s death will now become regular fodder in Mr. Trump’s campaign speeches. As will the trade deal he signed with China this week.
The pact announced on Wednesday is broadly viewed as a significant triumph for U.S. companies, which are now expected to benefit from access to more markets in China. Farm and energy exports are also forecast to rise under the deal. Also included in it are greater protections for U.S. technology and trade secrets. At the same time, it maintains the majority of the tariffs Mr. Trump levied on US$360-billion worth of goods manufactured in China.
The President can now legitimately brag that the country finally has someone in the Oval Office who had the fortitude to take on the Chinese and address the massive trade deficit that had built up over the years with the Asian superpower.
These victories for Mr. Trump come as candidates for the Democratic nomination for president continue to argue the merits of their respective bids. The national debates have often been stultifying affairs, including another this week. You can almost see the President licking his chops at the prospect of going up against Joe Biden or Pete Buttigieg or Elizabeth Warren.
“What about the upcoming impeachment trial?” you might say.
Yes, what about it?
Everyone knows Mr. Trump will survive it. Even moderate Republicans, people like Ms. Dowd’s brother Kevin, think the impeachment process is a sham. Ukraine didn’t end up carrying out the investigation into the Bidens that Mr. Trump wanted, and the aid the country was due was ultimately released. Where, he wonders, is the great scandal?
At recent rallies, Mr. Trump has been testing out lines he’s expected to use on the campaign trail. They include a fierce denunciation of the impeachment process as a partisan sham perpetrated by dark forces inside the government that are out to get him. The same forces responsible for the Mueller report, the contents of which had absolutely no negative effect on the President.
Don’t get me wrong. I think Mr. Trump is one of the most unsavoury characters to ever hold the office of president. All mankind would be better off if he were to be defeated next November.
All I’m saying is don’t count on it. He’s on a roll.
Keep your Opinions sharp and informed. Get the Opinion newsletter. Sign up today.