President Donald Trump has lost every vote he will ever lose by offending people. He passed that threshold with the release of the infamous “grab ’em” remarks on Oct. 7, 2016. He won the election anyway.
Weariness, not outrage, will cause his loss if he is not re-elected next year. His bluster and insults no longer thrill or shock. They have grown tiresome. The man would probably cruise to re-election if he could shut up.
But perhaps I am a poor judge of such things. I am just a wiseguy from Arkansas. Nikki Haley, though, is a woman who rose high in the boys’ club that is the Republican Party. She won election as the governor of South Carolina. Then she served Trump as his United Nations ambassador. She earned a reputation as one of the few people who could talk some sense into him. She left his administration while the getting was good.
It was “too bad” when the home of a political opponent in Congress was burglarized, the president tweeted a week ago Friday with obvious sarcasm. Haley replied on Twitter: “This is so unnecessary,” with an emoji of rolling eyes.
Not to question Haley’s sincerity, but she is an astute and ambitious politician. I do not believe she would have replied that way without calculating the political cost versus benefit. I think a lot of people in the president’s party, Haley included, tired of Trump’s spew long ago.
Sometimes, when the “enough is enough” threshold is passed, there are slowly expanding cracks instead of a big break. Whether such cracks will make a difference in the 15 months until the next election remains to be seen.
The president has provided a heavy load of things to get tired of lately, before and after Haley’s tweet. Trump telling four congresswomen to go back to the countries they came from when three of them were born in the United States was just plain dumb. Letting a rally crowd chant “Send her back” while standing there basking in it made things worse. The week-long attack on Baltimore was both dumb and weird. No one denies Maryland’s 7th Congressional district contains some awful places, but to condemn the whole district, home to more than 600,000 people, as a place “no human being would want to live” is not only offensive, but also dumb. Some people in cages in Texas would move there tomorrow if we let them out.
Then came more shootings. There are always more shootings. The president has based his whole political career on stoking fear of foreigners — including those U.S. citizens he declared to not be “real” Americans. Yet he and his defenders huff when their opponents say there is a connection.
The president’s defenders insist he is being smeared. His comments are cast in the worst possible light, they say. Suppose, for the sake of argument, they are right. They are not, but suppose they are. They should have learned from Hillary Clinton’s public career. According to Trump’s fans, the press was in the tank for her. No casting of the worst possible light on her, they say. Yet what happened to her shows what matters.
What matters is not whether smears are true or not. What matters is if they stick. And if people do not like you, everything sticks.
But Trump is all that is standing between us and socialism, his defenders say. Oh, please. Many suburban, college-educated white women abandoned the GOP in the 2018 mid-terms. There is no serious basis for doubt they will snap right back once the party is no longer led by someone they loath. Haley is counting on it.
The only people who believe Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., is the future of the Democratic Party are her fans on Twitter and the most paranoid of Republicans. Not even the GOP operatives using her as a scarecrow believe it.
None of the “Squad” of liberals attacked by Trump and his minions are the face of Democrats. The face of the Democratic Party will accept their presidential nomination in Milwaukee, Wis., next July.
The GOP still includes rational Republicans. They feel trapped. This is because of an unhealthy level of partisan loyalty. This president does not reward their loyalty. He abuses it.