This from an account in The Economist of a Frank Luntz focus group of Donald Trump supporters. Interesting and saddening stuff. But it only hints at the basic reason that a quarter or more of the American electorate is thrilled to death by a lying, loudmouthed, ignorant, bullying braggart. It is not his politics, it is his persona. Nothing strange about it: Little assholes admire big assholes.
It was the same when group members were shown 15 crass or mendacious tweets sent out by Mr. Trump, and were asked to pick the one that bothered them the most, when it came to choosing a future president. The winner, picked by 16 of the 29, was from April, when the property tycoon retweeted a supporter’s observation: “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?”
Still, the supporters fell over themselves to offer excuses. “He’s just a regular guy,” said one. “You don’t think Hillary Clinton says things like that in private?” said another.
It was the same throughout the session — which was in essence a repetition of a private focus group conducted by Mr. Luntz a few months ago, recreated in Alexandria with new participants in order to show the press Mr. Trump’s astonishing immunity to criticism. Supporters repeatedly twisted themselves in knots to exonerate Mr. Trump.
The press are biased, reporters are “assholes” and “socialists”, it was declared. Perhaps the businessman had been provoked. If a Black Lives Matter protester was assaulted at a rally, why, that was not Mr. Trump’s fault, it was his security guards (and no matter than Mr. Trump was filmed snarling: “Get him the hell out of here” and later mused: “Maybe he should have been roughed up a little”).
More broadly, it was deemed “refreshing” or “entertaining” when Mr. Trump abused and insulted his Republican rivals. It made him human: everyone has an uncle who gets drunk at Thanksgiving and says things, it was averred.