The president's supporters are undeterred in their loyalty — so far, anyway.
Donald Trump boasted in 2016 that he could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and not lose any voters. Even if he hasn't gone that far yet, the then Republican presidential candidate was not completely wrong in the way he cynically took stock.
Stories about the manners ("grab 'em by the pussy"), mental state ("stable genius") and political cluelessness of the 45th president are legion. Last week, he was called a notorious racist. This time, in a book by whistle-blowing icon Bob Woodward, the president comes across as an impulsive idiot whose own colleagues surreptitiously swipe draft presidential decrees from his desk in the name of national security.
The abyss revealed in "Fear: Donald Trump in the White House" is in fact much deeper than even the most vocal critics of Trump thought possible. And of course it's admirable how a host of U.S. journalists are working away at the president and are being personally insulted and targeted by him.
But Trump is no Nixon. The year 1974, when President Richard Nixon resigned following the Watergate revelations of Woodward and Carl Bernstein, is a long time ago. None of Trump’s many scandals has yet to truly damage him, at least not where it hurts Trump the most – among his supporters.
The media will not be the downfall of Trump. His tactic of branding any dissent as “fake news” is ultimately as perfidious as it is effective. His message is reaching its target audience. However crude and however outlandish, it is the same this time when he denounces Woodward as an "agent of the Democrats" before his book has even been published, and spots a supposed conspiracy to hurt the Republicans in the upcoming midterm elections.
On Twitter, @realDonaldTrump talks to the people – his people – more directly, more quickly, and with no inconvenient questions. He is a master here at exploiting the reservations many people in flyover states in the interior of the country have about the so-called elites in Washington and coastal cities. This is probably what will happen this time as well. Truth in the Trump era is more than ever a product of its time, flexible and changeable. This explains why the president lies day in and day out without losing credibility among his core electorate or jeopardizing the loyalty of the once proud Republican Party.
Until now, anyway. If the Democrats' eagerly anticipated "blue wave" washes over the U.S. in November, many a Republicans might recognize that while @realDonaldTrump is keeping his own supporters in line, by doing so he is scaring away the parts of the electorate operating as independents, without whom no U.S. election can be won. If Trump goes too far, these are the very people who could turn away from him in droves.
And if the aura of a president who could shoot somebody in the middle of New York without losing popularity is now tarnished, the subversive protagonists in Woodward's book who are preventing the worst, day after day in the White House, should feel emboldened.