During a December 2015 debate among Republican presidential candidates in Las Vegas, former Florida governor Jeb Bush said to Donald Trump: “You can’t insult your way to the presidency.”

Never mind.

The question for next year’s election is whether the insulter-in-chief can use the same tactic to win a second term. It depends on two other questions: who the Democrats end up nominating and whether voters see that person as too far left (as the leading candidates unarguably are) and two, whether enough voters who held their noses and voted for Trump last time will be sufficiently turned off that they will stay home.

Yes, early polls are usually meaningless, but there are warning signs that should be heeded.

A new Fox News poll suggests potential problems for the president on the second question. The president’s favorite network (until recently when he began criticizing the goose laying golden eggs for him) shows his disapproval rating has soared to 56 percent, one point lower than his record high in October 2017. His disapproval numbers ticked up sharply last month, rising 5 percent.

More troubling is the drop in approval of the president’s job performance from 46 percent last month, to 43 percent now. His record low approval rating was 38 percent, also in October 2017.

Other statistics from the Fox poll that should concern the White House: a record number of men (53 percent) disapprove of the president. These include 46 percent of white men and 64 percent of crucial independent voters. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

None of this seems to bother the president, who engaged in more insults in a speech last week in Manchester, N.H., a state he lost to Hillary Clinton by just .37 percent in 2016.

In that speech Mr. Trump took a “vote for me, even if you hate me, because the Democrats will ruin the economy” approach. While that may be true, there are intangibles that also influence voters, including how America positions itself before the world. There is no question that President Trump is pushing back against liberalism, socialism and the notion that Democrats must always set the agenda and Republicans are left to respond to it. That is what has solidified uncritical support among his base.

But — and this is a very big but — there is also the issue of deportment, something taught at home and in school when I was a child. Manners, character, honesty, consistency and how others see you were also traits thought important to instill in young men and women.

Is the economy all that matters? Have we become that cynical? Perhaps some of his uncritical evangelical supporters might point to a verse which says, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10), or “Whoever loves money never has enough.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

We are, or ought to be, more than what we possess. We are not in a civil war, despite what one might see, read, or hear.

When we were in a Civil War, our 16th president said something our 45th president might wish to consider: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

The president might win a second term, insulting along the way, but will it have been worth it if he continues to appeal to the worst devils that are also in our nature?

Cal Thomas is a political writer. His column is distributed nationally by the Tribune Content Agency

(4) comments

DavidSparkman

Do people want a nice President over an effective one? Cal Thomas seems to think so. He ignores the continual lies of the Dimocrats (they truly are Dim) and thinks we should be nice while they stab us in the back. Ref: the song "Smiling Faces."

Cal also says we are not the enemy of the Democrats. Actually, we are their enemies even though we protect their rights. We do not go after our political enemies as they went after us, so wake up Cal. You can see this in the retrograde state of California where disagreeing with the Left can get you fined or jailed. Free Speech is an inconvenient problem to the Left's agenda so they promote political correctness as the law of the land. We totter on the edge of totalitarianism if we don't push back for liberty.

Spock Here

I personally want an effective president who may not be nice, but who is moral, fair, and who can lead. Someone who cares about this planet, and all who live on it. Someone who has a vision about moving forward, not back. Someone who does not go around promoting hate with his / her actions and words. Someone without grabby hands. I really think it's pathetic that you buy into this "enemies" thing, and don't realize "promoting political correctness" means "the golden rule": treating others with respect, you know, how you want to be treated.

Eredmon

Most of your wish-list remarks rule out the entire batch of Democratic Presidential Wannabe mudslingers. Please help me to see and understand what you say about your hopefuls.

Spock Here

Pointless to talk to you about my "hopefuls" when you come at it like that, I can't help you "see."

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