John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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Why the intellectual set won’t support President Trump

Posted on March 4, 2019
The intellectual set doesn’t care much for Donald J. Trump.

After reading the transcript of the president’s Conservative Political Action Conference speech, I get where they are coming from.

He was all over the place. He was against fake news but for the First Amendment. He was for getting rid of all regulation and then spoke in favor of strong regulation. He’s against socialism but he likes Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson, perhaps presciently about our current president.

But Trump killed it among the conservatives who came to their annual convention, no matter how inconsistent he may have been in his two-hour presentation.

According to new polls, 90 percent of the Republican base strongly supports the president.

And according to the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, his 46 percent approval rating is as high as he has gotten since getting to the White House. His numbers are about where former Presidents Obama and George W. Bush were at similar stages in their tenures.

In a poll among the intelligentsia, the pundits, the columnists, the thinkers, and the major intellectual Poobahs who make up the Coastal smart-set, though, I would venture to guess that Trump would score a less than 1 percent approval rating.

That’s a feature, not a bug, in the president’s reelection strategy.

Like the vast majority of the American people, Trump is internally inconsistent when it comes to most things in life.
The American people are concerned about our debt but don’t want politicians to touch their Social Security. They want people to be self-reliant, but they want help from the government when they need it. They don’t like political correctness, but they get outraged when somebody says something that they find offensive.

Intellectuals have long tried to make sense out of the bizarre ability of most voters to hold two contradictory thoughts in their minds at the same time and still function.

F. Scott Fitzgerald would call that a sign of intelligence. Psychologists call it cognitive dissonance.

Trump calls it leadership. While many voters are appalled by his antics, his tweets and his inability to get his facts straight, right now, he is the odds-on favorite to win reelection.

It was three years ago this March where it became clear to me that Trump had a real shot to win the Republican primary and had an even-shot to win the White House.

I wrote a series of articles explaining why I would support him if he got the nomination and I urged my fellow Republicans to jump on board and help him not only win but govern.

For my troubles, I got attacked by leading intellectuals like Bill Kristol, who accused me and my ilk for having a well-upholstered settee and a well-appointed office (my office is actually kind of a mess and has nothing upholstered of any note in it).

The president is performing about how I expected he would.

He desperately wants to keep him promises on immigration and trade, which shows that he is not a typical politician.

He says many things that I find to be very amusing and some other things that aren’t as funny.

He makes mistakes, as anybody would who has never held elective office before would.

At times he is inconsistent, at other times, he is unpredictable. But he is never dull.

The Democrats are starting the process of ousting this president from office. They will launch endless investigations, make scurrilous claims, promote countless conspiracy theories.

And in the process, they will please the intellectual set that despises this president with every ounce of their being.

But as they make the elites happy, they will lose the vast middle of this country that has grown tired of endless partisan bickering and wants help with their rising health care bills.

Republicans would be wise to move forward on a legislative agenda that keeps faith with the president’s promises while also making the lives of the average American voter more affordable.

There’s no percentage in trying to make the intellectual set happy.