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The unjustified incredulity of Trump-haters | COMMENTARY

Some believe the media holds President Donald Trump to a different standard than Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Some believe the media holds President Donald Trump to a different standard than Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Donald Trump is the “dumbest and worst president” in American history, so said Republican attorney George Conway, seeing and raising The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin’s evaluation of President Trump in part of the media competition to hate him the most.

I think that James Buchanan would give Mr. Trump a run for his money as the worst, and I think that calling Mr. Trump dumbest or even dumb is, well, a “lie.”

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Neither Trump lovers nor Trump haters will endorse or enjoy this column, and since in our polarized society, the remaining readers may well constitute the null case, prepare yourself for some unpleasant and unsatisfying rhetorical truths.

The people who detest Donald Trump cannot fathom how he can simply blatantly lie with impunity, meaning he loses no Trump-lovers when he says any of, for example, the lies that The Washington Post Fact Checker has catalogued. For example, Mr. Trump has actually made, The Post claimed in April, over 18,000 “false or misleading claims.”

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Many of these are not disputable calls (although many are). Mr. Trump claims he passed the “biggest tax cut in history," and one of his most recent and ugly prevarications was that Joe Scarborough, MSNBC anchor, may be a murderer. President Trump opined on the death of Lori Klausutis, an aide to Mr. Scarborough, that it was “a very suspicious situation ... I hope somebody gets to the bottom of it ... there’s no statute of limitations.“

How, you may wonder, could any sentient being support a president who lies so consistently, or as Trump-haters might say, so constantly?

It is due to the resentment against Trump-haters’ double standard of ignoring their favorite politicians’ deceptions and lies and/or rhetorically dismissing them as inconsequential.

Let’s look at CNN’s Dana Bash’s recent, widely heralded, soft-as-soft-can be, follow-up-free interview with Democratic presumed nominee Joe Biden. Mr. Biden claimed wildly, “at least 35,000 to 50,000” of the estimated 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus were avoidable and caused by the president’s “lack of attention and ego.”

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Up to half the deaths from the coronavirus were caused by the president’s badly motivated decision-making? Well, that certainly calls for a question from the never-interrupting reporter Ms. Bash. What did she ask him about that shocking claim: How did he come up with such a number? What policies initiated by President Trump led to such unnecessary deaths? What did Mr. Biden recommend and at what time that would have avoided so many deaths?

None of these questions or any questions regarding Mr. Biden’s outrageous allegation followed.

Ms. Bash’s follow-up was a statement that Mr. Trump was trying to “make fun of you,” that he “was trying to belittle you” and made “it seem like a sign of weakness: Is it?” — she asked, referring to Mr. Biden’s wearing a mask in public. Mr. Biden hit that softball out of the park, but the game is baseball, and an interviewer is not supposed to be a batting practice pitcher. There were literally no tough inquires in the interview shown on Wolf Blitzer’s “Situation Room.” Mr. Blitzer was head-over-heels about the “great” interview.

There were no questions from either of those two journalists about the Tara Reade controversy, which was given significant credibility in a separate interview of her by former Fox News host Megyn Kelly. There were no questions about Mr. Biden’s stuttering, stammering and confusion in interviews. No questions about previous allegations that Mr. Biden plagiarized British Labor leader Neil Kinnock in 1976. There was no information about the editing of the Biden interviews. If Mr. Biden were giving more interviews, one could say whether this was an outlier, but the non-confrontational style is typical of interviews by Democratic-leaning media sources to this point.

This writer is not arguing an equivalence between the tastelessness, outright falsities and, the newest charge, lack of empathy of Mr. Trump. I have published almost a half-dozen articles regarding how sickening this president’s vile style and simple dishonesty are to me. (That is why I wrote in my presidential choice in 2016.)

But if fair-minded people are wondering why Mr. Trump’s supporters do not concede their negative points, it is because of the free pass his despisers give to his critics and opponents when they make up stories, repeat their lies and have demonstrable political failings that are not addressed.

This is why charges against Mr. Trump solidify his support. There was never coverage comparable to Mr. Trump’s of the President Obama promises about Obamacare. There is hardly any examination of the material questions about Vice President Biden.

If Trump despisers wish to ever rhetorically move large numbers of even those conservatives or undecided centrists who are open to persuasion, there has to be some equality of incredulity regarding the weaknesses of their own political principals.

Richard E. Vatz (rvatz@towson.edu) is professor of political persuasion at Towson University and author of “The Only Authentic Book of Persuasion: the Agenda-Spin Model” (LAD Custom Publishing, 2019).

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