It was supposed to be the demise of Donald Trump. He finally went too far. He violated one of the most sacred values of the political class. There was unanimity of opinion among everyone on the well-fed right and in the “conservative media” that Trump crossed a line when he called for a temporary moratorium on Muslim immigration “until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses.”
From watching the frenetic reaction of the thumb-sucking Fox News Republicans, we were given the impression there would be a million man march demanding “give us more Muslim immigration or give us death!” This was the moment when everyone in the party would unite to banish Trump from polite society. Fox News breathlessly planted one talking head after another. They lampooned Trump with a degree of sanctimony that was laughable to everyone except for their small group of GOP insiders who live by their every word.
At the time, I had a conversation with a political reporter who observed that I was the only person who wasn’t outraged by his comments. He told me that my views about the record high Muslim immigration being a bigger problem than Trump’s ill-advised categorical ban was something that was a view completely not reflected in his Twitter timeline. I replied, “I have news for you: your Twitter timeline ain’t America, especially as it relates to the issue of immigration.”
And indeed, the political forums are not representative of America.
Within days, Trump surged to his biggest national lead. The polls showed that most Republicans agreed with Trump and a plurality of Americans did as well. And that was in response to a polling question about the false, absolutist choice of banning every last Muslim (instead of a general cool-off from the Middle East). According to a Gallup report out today, “Donald Trump’s image among the overall U.S. population has trended up, not down, after his Dec. 7 recommendation that the U.S. prevent Muslims from coming into the country.” In fact his “unfavorable” numbers among Democrats went down by 6 points.
Remember, as it relates to immigration overall, only 8% of Americans want a net increase in legal immigration. Contrast that to the D.C. political class -I can’t find a single “conservative” insider who doesn’t support a net increase in immigration.
Now the Fox News Republicans and their groupies online are taking their road show onto Ted Cruz. They think that they will net better results in going after Cruz than they did with Trump. They just don’t get and they never will.
Following the 1972 election in which Richard Nixon won 49 states and crushed George McGovern in the popular vote, noted New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael famously said she barely knew anyone who didn’t support McGovern:
‘I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them.’”
This is the world in which the political class travels. This is the world in which the GOP media has decided to play. But much like Pauline Kael, they will “feel” the outside world sooner or later – whether they like it or not.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.