They look like three very different stories, but look closer. The media, middle America, and Washington insiders are three very different sides of the same story — the story of an attempted “silent coup” to remove an elected president.
Begin here in the New York Post with yet another piece of serious leg work by Salena Zito. While Americans see her on CNN these days, I have known her for years as one of Pennsylvania’s best journalists. She’s based in Pittsburgh, and her “Main Street” approach to covering the news always provides a crystal-clear conservative lens to see what is actually happening outside the beltway.
The other day, Zito went over the Pennsylvania/Ohio border to Youngstown, where, of course, President Trump was visiting. Her report was headlined “Why the Rust Belt just gave Donald Trump a hero’s welcome.”
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — This town was on fire.
By 1 in the afternoon on Tuesday, every main thoroughfare downtown was filled with happy people heading toward the Covelli Centre. Folks dressed in red, white and blue crisscrossed the main grids as vendors sold “Make America Great Again” ball caps, American flags and bottles of water.
Thousands had filled the gravel parking lot to wait until the doors opened at 4, license plates revealing they had traveled from as far as Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia to see the president speak directly to them in this Rust Belt city.
Recall that Youngstown is in Mahoning County — Democratic turf. Until 2016. In 2008, GOP nominee John McCain lost Mahoning County to Barack Obama 62.0 percent to 35.5 percent. Four years later, Mitt Romney lost Mahoning County for the GOP again, this time 63.4 percent to 35.1 percent. But in 2016? Donald Trump lost Mahoning County 49.5 percent to 46.2 percent, a margin of a mere 3.3 percent. If you want to know why Donald Trump is in the White House today, look no further than Youngstown, Ohio. This was a Trump electoral performance repeated across industrial states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin — the alleged “Blue Wall” Democrats and their media friends were so convinced was un-breachable.
Contrast the “hero’s welcome” the president received in Youngstown with the daily headlines in the Washington Post and the New York Times. They move from one NeverTrump obsession to another. His tiff with Attorney General Jeff Sessions. His Boy Scout speech, which was received with thunderous applause from the Scouts themselves but drew headlines like — really! — this in Newsweek: “TRUMP BOY SCOUT SPEECH IS NAZI HITLER YOUTH RALLY, LEFT SAYS.” This left-wing media jewel begins this way:
President Donald Trump brought his bombastic politics to a Boy Scouts event Monday in West Virginia, drawing cheers from the children gathered at the event and prompting comparisons between his rousing rhetoric and Nazi youth rallies from some liberal activists and journalists.
Got that? The president of the United States makes the first presidential visit to the Boy Scout Jamboree in eight years — President Obama declined to show up for a decades-old tradition begun by President Franklin Roosevelt — and he is compared to Hitler, while all those American kids cheering him on are compared to a Nazi youth rally.
Youngstown “was on fire” awaiting Trump’s arrival. Its citizens and others from neighboring states were “happy people,” thrilled for the chance to see the man they voted for and whom they clearly love. And they are more than aware that the liberal media looks down on them and holds them in contempt — contempt that makes Newsweek see all those Boy Scouts gathered in West Virginia and see only young Nazis. The contrast between the media and the attitudes of those in middle America could hardly be more stark.
Move from these stories to Senator John McCain’s much-heralded return to the Senate. Senator McCain is indisputably an American hero, and we wish him well as he faces this tough fight ahead with brain cancer. A battle of that kind is nothing to snark at. But the discussion of current events proceeds, and in his return, McCain — who lost Mahoning County by over 26 points — made it a point to scold his Senate colleagues for not getting anything done. McCain was most assuredly right about that, and every day the Republicans in the Senate and House meander around, “trying” to fulfill a seven-year promise to repeal and replace ObamaCare, his point is underlined.
But McCain also seems to believe that those of us out here in conservative media land are the problem, saying in his floor speech: “I hope we can again rely on humility, on our need to cooperate, on our dependence on each other to learn how to trust each other again, and by so doing, better serve the people who elected us. Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and television and the internet. To hell with them.”
Well, gee. The problem here is obvious, if not to Senator McCain. As the whole massive failure of the GOP to repeal and replace ObamaCare illustrates, when the senator says that there is a need to rely on “our need to cooperate, on our dependence on each other to learn how to trust each other again, and by so doing, better serve the people who elected us,” what conservatives hear is the acceptance of expanding big government for the umpteenth time. As Margaret Thatcher long ago pointed out, it always seems that too many “conservatives” — Republicans like Senator McCain — are willing to just settle for the status quo of the moment — statism — and let the “socialist ratchet” (as Thatcher called it) ratchet to the left yet again. The very fact that the GOP establishment has gone weak in the knees when it comes to repealing ObamaCare is a disturbingly vivid case in point.
Last but not least, we come to the “tension” (as it has been described) between President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Let’s be clear. There is no greater thoughtful conservative in government than Sessions. But the president does have a point.
The inside-the-beltway crowd is all about a “silent coup” to get Trump out of the Oval Office. Those targeting him have absolutely no use for all those Americans described in Salena Zito’s story about Youngstown, Ohio. They view Washington, D.C., from the presidency to Congress to the Supreme Court and all those bureaucracies ensconced in those big concrete boxes straddling the Potomac as the possession of elite insiders of both parties. And they will use any instrument within their reach to do whatever it takes to disrupt if not terminate a presidency awarded by the good people of Youngstown to Donald Trump.
Thus they extracted a recusal pledge from AG nominee Sessions — a man whom a number of “colleagues” spent time pillorying as a racist unacceptable to head the Justice Department in the first place. By granting that pledge, Sessions effectively ceded the ball to the president’s Establishment enemies, who quickly succeeded in getting a “special counsel” to investigate a supposed Trump-Russian “collusion.” For which there is not a shred of proof.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller, true to form in these things, quickly made a point of hiring lawyers tied to Hillary Clinton and then soon announced that they were mission-creeping the investigation of the election to Trump’s sale of apartments to Russians, not to mention that deeply conspiratorial then-Trump-owned Miss Universe pageant in Moscow back in 2013.
What does any of that have to do with the 2016 election? No answer forthcoming. But the president is clearly right to see this as a direct assault on his presidency — a “silent coup” to overrule all those millions of Americans like the ones Salena Zito was reporting on from Youngstown the other day.
“Houston, we have a problem.” What we have here is a serious disconnect between the American media, the American people, and the politicians of both parties who represent them. President Trump is in the White House precisely because he understood what he was hearing from his fellow Americans, the message the media is trying desperately to erase. He is trying to do exactly what they said they wanted done — and what he promised to do if elected.
But the insiders are not interested in simply opposing him with their own alternatives, much less, as Senator McCain suggested, “getting something done.” They are intent upon removing an outsider from the White House. And as the media cheers the insiders on while they use AG Sessions as a tool, middle America’s contempt for both the media and the insiders grows.
At a moment like this, it would be helpful if more people in Washington — particularly Republicans — were paying attention not to the liberal media or Washington insiders but the people who flooded Youngstown, Ohio, the other night to cheer on the president. Like one Roxanne Jewell, of Orangeville, Ohio, who told Salena Zito this:
“He is exactly who we wanted, someone fresh, different, not a politician. He says things that people don’t want to hear, and that, I think, has been the biggest adjustment for the people who didn’t vote for him.”
Ms. Jewell gets it. Here’s hoping more Washington Republicans do as well.
Jeffrey Lord is a former White House political director under Reagan. He writes from Pennsylvania and is the author of “What America Needs: The Case for Trump.” Email him at [email protected].