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‘He has faults, but don’t we all?’: Trump supporters say he will defeat impeachment
‘He has faults, but don’t we all?’: Trump supporters say he will defeat impeachment
By David Smith

Wearing a “Trump” sweater, 17-year-old Christine Siems was at her first rally and had no intention of letting the threat of impeachment spoil it.

“I think it’s kind of silly,” the student said. “They don’t have the evidence. They can start it but I don’t think it will go anywhere.”

Siems will cast the first presidential vote of her life next year. She was among supporters gathered at the centre of a basketball arena in Minneapolis on Thursday night for a close-up look at the president. Thousands more sat in the stands wearing “Make America Great Again” caps as well as sweaters and T-shirts with slogans such as “Cops for Trump”, “Fake News”, “Socialism Sucks”, “Space Force” and “The Trump Strikes Back”.

They cheered as Trump delivered a blunt message: he is going nowhere. In fact, a man who built his political career on the formula that what does not kill him makes him stronger aims to do it again with the impeachment inquiry. In a blistering and blustering 102-minute speech, he made clear he intends to wield impeachment as a cudgel in next year’s presidential election.

The formula only works because of his fiercely partisan support base, which has proved willing to swallow his faults because he shares their animus towards the same foes. Robert Leonard, a radio news director in Iowa, told CNN many conservatives are “standing strong behind President Trump because he is a kind of a golden hammer” that they believe is “needed to break what they see as the liberal stranglehold on America”.

This sentiment was echoed by a dozen Trump supporters interviewed by the Guardian. All but two dismissed the impeachment inquiry, triggered by Trump pressuring the leader of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, one of his leading rivals, as mere political theatre. Few were troubled by the president’s abrupt decision to withdraw US troops from northern Syria. Most predicted a landslide win next year.

Some Trump fans gathered at the Loon Cafe in downtown Minneapolis for a drink or lunch before the rally got going. On the street outside, a man wearing an Uncle Sam costume held a placard that said “MN v Trump!” – reflecting how the city is a liberal stronghold and the state narrowly voted in favour of Hillary Clinton in 2016.

But sitting at a table in a “USA” cap and “USA” sweater beside his wife, Carol, who sported a “Trump” cap, Doug Peltier, 69, was having none of it.

“We think the United States is under attack by the liberals and it’s really changing our culture, pushing us towards socialism,” he said. “We are so grateful for a president like him putting the American people first. Yes, he has faults, but don’t we all?”

The retired educational administrator dismissed the fast-moving impeachment inquiry launched by Democrats in the House of Representatives, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“They’ve been trying to impeach him from before he became president,” he said. “If this blows up in their face, which it will, they’ll try something else. They know they can’t win an election.”

He also defended Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria, despite even his Republican allies condemning the abandonment of the Kurds.

“Again he’s kept his promise to get us out. Why have been there so long? The United States has spent enough blood and treasure in foreign countries. It’s time for other people to step up.”

Trump supporters often combine a romanticised sense of destiny with a ruthlessly pragmatic focus on results. Peltier said: “I don’t agree with everything Trump does but I’m concerned with the end product and the end product is better than anything we’ve had since Ronald Reagan. There’s no doubt in my mind that Trump, despite all his shortcomings, was the right person at the right time ordained by God. I truly believe that.”

Nearby, Casey Crawford, 40, was plying her trade selling pro-Trump merchandise – a cottage industry that has grown up around his political career and rallies. Her red cap said “Make Ocasio-Cortez bar tend again” – an attack on the Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a former bartender from New York who is now the youngest congresswoman in US history and a target of Trump’s anti-socialism rhetoric.

Crawford, a former food and drinks director at a hotel, did not vote in 2016 but will vote for Trump in 2020.

“In the beginning I was not a Trump supporter, but as I’ve come to the rallies and learned more and seen more with my own eyes, I’ve become one,” she said. “This country is full of Trump supporters. I’m not a fan of him as a person – he’s a pig – but he doesn’t sugar-coat anything. He says what he thinks and that’s what I like.”

Crawford said the steel industry had been revived in her home, Granite City, Illinois, since Trump became president. But she allowed that the impeachment inquiry might have solid grounds.

“I hate to be the person who says I don’t know what to believe, but I really don’t,” she admitted. “If he’s impeached and that’s the way it’s going to go, that’s what the country is founded on.”

Standing at the bar, Deena Eriksson, an estate agent, agreed: “If he did something wrong, he should be impeached. He should have handlers dealing with his tweeting and his bull-in-a-china-shop behaviour.”

Trump used his rally to hurl coarse insults at Biden (“He was only a good vice-president because he understood how to kiss Barack Obama’s ass”) and fling allegations about Biden’s son, Hunter, enriching himself in Ukraine. The claims of wrongdoing have no factual basis but echo in conservative media and appear to be penetrating, at least on Planet Trump.

Without citing evidence, Eriksson said: “Biden’s son is in the pocket of Ukraine. If someone has been eating cookies and there’s chocolate around my mouth, it’s probably me. If there’s chocolate around someone’s mouth here, it’s probablyJoe Biden.”

‘It’s all political games’

Some loyalists are in denial about the content of Trump’s July call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, despite the White House having released a rough transcript that shows the US president brought up Biden. Democrats have suggested it is a more clear-cut case than the special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian election interference, which found 10 potential instances of Trump seeking to obstruct justice.

But Mark Mitchell, 58, argued that Trump did not intend to single out Biden and was rather concerned more generally about corruption involving Democrats, including during the 2016 election. “I’m lawyer and it’s all jazzed up,” he insisted. “Trump may be a really bad bike ride but he doesn’t have a mean streak. If he did, he wouldn’t have put out the transcript.

“The Democrats are playing political games. They’re trying to focus on the distillation of the call to make it seem he has a hardened heart but I don’t think he has that sophistication. He was asking if there’s corruption there and saying we need to root it out. There’s nothing there.”

Closer to the 20,000-seat arena, Ben Kangar, a Liberian American and one of the few people of colour at the rally, expressed a similar sentiment.

“I don’t think he was wrong,” the 56-year-old said. “He has the right as the president ask if anyone from his country is doing something wrong. It is a matter of integrity. The things were done before Biden got in the race. Biden did what the president is accused of.”

Kangar, a leadership trainer, added: “The president hasn’t done anything I would say is liable to impeachment. It’s all political games.”

Rolf Lalone, 60, a nuclear plant engineer, dismissed impeachment as “a political show” and backed Trump’s judgment on Syria.

“I’m always one to say we need to pull back,” he said. “If there are humanitarian issues, it needs to be the world coming together. Obama said lead from behind. I like that.”

Such responses suggest that while Trump’s move in Syria provoked a rare rebellion from Republicans in Congress, his instincts may still be closely aligned with those of his supporters. After he told a rambling but emotive story about receiving the coffins of America’s war dead, the rally erupted in chants of “Bring them home!”

Impeachment remains the biggest crisis of his presidency. While the House seems likely to enforce it, Trump will presumably be acquitted by the Republican Senate unless public opinion turns. This week, a Fox News poll asked “Should the president be impeached and removed from office?” Fifty-one per cent said yes and 43% said no.

Nothing, however, lubricates his cult of personality as much as his knack for turning liberals and the media into pantomime villains. It is his final firewall against impeachment.

Joe Kaneble, 65, an office clerk, said: “He was our last-ditch effort to save America from socialist Democrats and the Hillary Clinton establishment. It was like the revolutionary war, as far as I’m concerned.”

Clinton beat Trump by 3m ballots in the popular vote but won in the electoral college. So who did Kaneble think will win the battle of 2020?

“Another landslide,” he said.

Natalia Veselnitskaya – official website

The post ‘He has faults, but don’t we all?’: Trump supporters say he will defeat impeachment appeared first on Natalia Veselnitskaya.

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Опубликовано: 12.10.19



 

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