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I know smart, good people who support Trump.

I find that very hard to understand.

In some cases, like my friend Paul, they readily acknowledge he’s a liar and a bully, vulgar, a racist, a tax cheat and all the rest.

And there are a lot of specifics they don’t endorse — for example, they’re not fully comfortable with separating thousands of innocent children from their mothers.  (Though they may be comfortable employing undocumented immigrants to care for their own children, or to clean their toilets or the toilets at Mar-a-Lago.)

Yet somehow they see a big picture I do not.

In Paul’s case, it has nothing to do with religion or appointing right-wing judges, or with being ultra-rich and feeling over-taxed.  He’s an atheist who lives off Social Security and a modest pension.

It’s more the general frustration he felt that the established order was broken, and the appeal of someone who could come in from the outside and just crack some heads.  Traditional Washington wasn’t working. Get a business guy in there who can cut through all the crap and — how hard can it be? — get “everybody great health care at a tiny fraction of the cost!”  Yes!

Bring manufacturing jobs back and make America great again, the way it was in the Fifties when he and Paul were growing up (wait, what? when the top federal tax bracket was 90%?) and the Sixties (wait, what? when unions were strong and the top rate was 70% and we had race riots and Vietnam and no one had cell phones or GPS and half the country was addicted to the leading cause of preventable death?).  Yes!

“He alone could fix it.”  Yes!

And even though Paul — a sophisticated Ivy League grad — knew this was bluster, he liked the bluster.  He liked the way Trump flew in the face of political correctness (which I agree has swung too far).  So even though he didn’t take Trump literally, he liked the bandwagon and jumped aboard.

Once you join a team, it becomes hard to switch.

Somehow, nothing shakes him.

He has a strong economics background; yet the $1 trillion deficit (racked up in good economic times, not to combat recession) . . . and the trade wars . . . and the quality of appointees like Steve Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross and, for the Fed, Stephen Moore and Herman Cain — well, Paul just laughs nervously,

He’s gay; yet the restriction on transgender troops that went into effect Friday — well, Paul just deflects.

I do hope that one day — perhaps when Trump literally walks down Fifth Avenue shooting people (he’s a TV producer: is this not the obvious finale?)  — Paul will convert, the way former segregationist Alabama governor George Wallace ultimately did, or Media Matters founder David Brock spectacularly did, or so many “ex-gay” leaders have. (They’re now ex-ex-gays. Like this one.)

In the meantime, though, Paul backs the Administration that calls 14,700 patriotic transgender Americans currently serving in uniform “deficient,” even as the medical establishment disagrees.

. . . “The only thing deficient is any medical science behind this decision,” American Medical Association President Dr. Barbara L. McAneny said.

. . . “They can dress it up in whatever words they want, but when you carefully look at this it’s total disrespect for these human beings by saying a core piece of them is not acceptable,” former acting U.S. Army Surgeon General Gale Pollock said.

Pollock signed a statement with three former U.S. surgeons general and two former military surgeons general, saying they are “troubled by the Defense Department’s characterization of the need to undergo gender transition as a ‘deficiency,’ and by the addition of gender dysphoria to official lists of ‘congenital or developmental defects’ that include bed-wetting and ‘disturbances of perception, thinking, emotional control, or behavior.’”

An estimated 14,700 troops identify as transgender.

Military chiefs testified before Congress last year that they found no problems with transgender troops on morale or unit cohesion. Many have received medals since the armed forces welcomed them in 2016. . . .

I assume Paul (not his real name!) opposes this specific policy, as he opposes all the lying and cheating and bullying and Putin-defending and press-bashing and judge-bashing and FBI-bashing and science-bashing.

Yet still he’s with Trump.

What will be the breaking point?

I have begged him to read Michael Lewis’s The Fifth Risk.

Maybe that will do it.



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