This was going to do it.
Once and for all, President Donald Trump would be exposed for the fraud, phony, and fill-in your-favorite pejorative that he truly is.
The messenger: Porn actress Stormy Daniels (because whenever you need a character witness to smear a man, always go with the person who makes a living performing sex acts on camera). On Sunday, in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Daniels revealed that she had unprotected sex with Trump, who was at the time a married man.
The media and center left’s takeaway: Trump’s voters must justify their continued support for this morally bankrupt president — and that goes doubly for Christian evangelicals.
How can anyone claiming to be a Christian possibly still support Trump?
Despite all the chatter about marital infidelity, Trump still maintains a 61 percent approval rating among Christian evangelicals, according to a recent Pew Research Center poll.
That has Trump’s detractors, both of the loyal Democratic Party opposition and deranged “Never Trump” varieties, befuddled.
“The moral compass of many in the evangelical community for some reason goes into this magnetic field of Donald Trump and loses their way,” an exasperated Matthew Dowd, a former Bush campaign operative, said on ABC this Sunday. “This is a group of people that claim to speak for family values that claim to say character matters that claim to say we need a moral compass in the country and then they have a president of the United States who is completely antithetical to every one of those.”
Yes, it is true. Trump is not the role model of morality he should be as the nation’s leader. But, most of us knew that heading into the 2016 presidential election. We knew about Ivana Trump and Marla Maples. We knew about the uncouth remarks he made on Howard Stern’s radio show and on a live mic before a taping of “Access Hollywood.” Trump was, after all, a tabloid favorite in New York City for years, a fact which has left him with few publicly unexamined skeletons.
There is no denying any of it. But Trump’s moral virtues are not why Christian evangelicals continue to support him, albeit in slightly lower numbers.
The days of the Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority have passed. There was a time when behavior like Trump’s would have been an automatic disqualification, but it is not the 1980s anymore.
Conservative Republicans tried to apply high standards of morality to disqualify their Democratic opponents. President Bill Clinton admitted he did not live up to the standard of marital fidelity and Republicans took him all the way to articles of impeachment.
How did that work out?
Twenty years later, although he is somewhat of a punchline to a joke in some situations, Democrats still herald Clinton. He never was shunned to the extent that disgraced former President Richard Nixon was by his own party.
Oddly, Trump’s opponents, many of whom defended Clinton two decades ago, are now contorting themselves to argue this is the disqualifier; that Christians should denounce and withdraw their support for Trump.
They just do not get it. Here is why: It was never about Trump’s morality for Christian conservatives. They did not flock to him because he is an upstanding model for how people should conduct their personal affairs. To suggest Trump’s personal life has anything to do with their support is utterly absurd.
Trump does not threaten the Christian faith with his politics and policies. Christians are freer to practice their religion as they chose under a Trump administration than they were under Obama and they would have been under Clinton. That is the real reason.
Christians endured eight years of President Barack Obama, who once described the religious as “bitter.” Obama’s administration conducted policy in a way that intruded on their religious sensibilities, making birth control a mandatory offering; forcing schools to rewrite rules for their public bathrooms, and denuding the Defense of Marriage Act in support of same-sex marriage.
What is more of an imposition on the Christian evangelical lifestyle: Donald Trump’s sexual misbehavior years ago and a thousand miles away, or threatening to withhold education funds from school systems that dare to enforce bathroom rules that require you to use the one designated for your biological sex?
That’s what a lot of Trump’s critics do not or simply refuse to get. Trump obviously would be in better standing if he had played it straight and not fulfilled the stereotype of a wealthy Manhattan playboy with women and his gaudy display of wealth.
Perhaps more importantly than all that, these political pundit geniuses do not get Christianity. The Bible has some very explicit language about rendering judgment on sinners. Granted, you have to judge somewhat when one goes to the ballot box to determine who they think deserves to hold the highest office in the land, but there is a difference in casting a ballot and condemning an individual for their sin.
Evangelical Christians, for the most part, want to be able to practice their religion and not have to play this never-ending game of morality with perpetually shifting goalposts, especially when some of those goalposts had been in place for thousands of years of human civilization.
Donald Trump is not a role model. We should not raise children and point to him asmhow one should conduct their personal affairs.
However, given the choice of a candidate from the modern Democratic Party with its view about the power of the government or President Donald Trump and all his flaws, evangelical Christians are going to go with the latter.
They just want a president who will run a federal government that won’t interfere with their religion and supporting such a political figure does not make them a hypocrite.