Here’s a quick perusal of some headlines from last week and this weekend…
Dead man lying: Unyielding dishonesty and belligerence have landed Trump one investigation away from impeachment – Salon
Political chaos in Washington is a return on investment for Moscow – Washington Post
Trump must be impeached. Here’s why. – Laurence Tribe, Washington Post
Clapper: US institutions ‘under assault’ from Russia — and Trump – CNN
NBC/WSJ Poll: Just 29 Percent Approve of Trump’s Firing of James Comey – NBC News
The above is a fairly representative sample. The mainstream media headlines all look the same ever since the president fired the FBI director, which is not to say the media has relented in unhinged attacks on Trump since he took office.
It also seems that the nonstop negativity of that coverage has had an effect on the president — at least if some of the reports coming out of the White House press corps can be believed. We will lay aside a judgment on that question for the purposes of this column; on one hand, those media reports that Trump is buckling under media pressure and considering staff shakeups, etc., have the whiff of self-congratulation. On the other, Trump hasn’t been shy about his judgement of media coverage as grossly unfair.
But has the unrelenting media assault affected the public?
On that question, we can render something of a judgment. Which is that the public outside of Washington is generally not all that impressed.
I embarked on a business trip Friday which put me through three different airports, and I sat and listened to conversations in airport bars in all three while waiting for planes, and in all three I heard the same thing as the ubiquitous CNN talking head shows kicked around the idea of a presidency in crisis over the Comey firing.
Which was, basically, a yawn.
If the raconteurs on barstools at airport watering holes in New Orleans, Dallas, and Austin are any indication, average Americans look at the over-the-top rhetoric from the Beltway and see a lot made out of a very little. “Doesn’t the president have the right to fire whoever he wants in his own administration?” was one question I heard asked. “I thought the Democrats hated Comey,” was a statement I heard said more than once. “Don’t these people have anything else to talk about?” one kindly old lady muttered as she sipped an Old Fashioned waiting on a flight at Love Field.
It turns out I may have stumbled on a representative sample.
The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll cited above did find only 29 percent approval for the Comey firing. But the disapproval rate was 38 percent. Another third of the respondents didn’t have an opinion. And Trump’s approval rate in the poll was unchanged from its April results.
Let’s remember that Trump is in the White House in the first place because Americans who don’t live on the Eastern Seaboard, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago or Seattle generally have a low opinion of the elites who populate those cities. An increase in the volume from the same people saying the same things can hardly be expected to persuade them.
Is Trump a popular president? Of course not. He’s never been, and he isn’t likely to be. That has never mattered. What matters is he’s a little more popular than the shrill Democrats who howl about civilizational crisis because he’s the president.
That isn’t going to change when Maxine Waters goes on MSNBC and says it would have been OK had Hillary Clinton fired Comey but Trump can’t, or when better than half the Democratic Party won’t shut up about the phantom Trump And The Russians scandal.
The lesson for Trump, one he could probably benefit from taking to heart, is to be less concerned about what the talking heads have to say about him. Because the American people, particularly the ones who put him where he is, couldn’t care less.