As of Wednesday night, Donald Trump’s approval ratings hit a new low. According to FiveThirtyEight’s model, Trump has an average approval rating of 39.7 percent–easily the worst on record for a president at this stage in his presidency.
Believe it or not, it could potentially get worse.
Trump is the only president with a net negative approval rating this early on in his presidency. pic.twitter.com/cbBGN4ixBR
— FiveThirtyEight (@FiveThirtyEight) May 17, 2017
FiveThirtyEight’s Galen Druke notes that most of these polls were in the field before the most recent scandals were factored in, so it’s very likely that number could drop even further than that. There’s one other factor. The only reason Trump’s approval ratings are even that high, and indeed the only reason Trump was able to keep his approval ratings in the 40s for this long, is because of the religious right.
The most recent polls showed that anywhere from 73 to 78 percent of white evangelicals approved of Trump’s performance–more than double his performance in America as a whole. How is that possible, you may ask? Well, many of the religious right leaders have convinced their followers that Trump still walks on water, even in the face of the myriad of outrages coming from this White House.
One of those so-called leaders and so-called pastors is Rick Joyner of MorningStar Ministries, based at the old Heritage USA complex in Fort Mill, South Carolina–just 20 minutes south of my home in Charlotte. It turns out that not even the evidence that the firing of FBI Director James Comey may have been a criminal act wasn’t enough to keep Joyner from bowing before the Orange Calf. Far from it. He’s convinced that Trump still has God’s hand on him.
In case you missed it, several news organizations got their hands on a memo Comey wrote about a meeting he had with Trump in February, at which the president asked Comey to shut down the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. If this memo is accurate, such a request would have the distinct flavor of obstruction of justice. Indeed, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have suggested that if Comey’s memo is accurate, it could be grounds for impeachment.
But on Wednesday afternoon, Joyner told his Facebook followers that this is a lot of fuss over nothing. People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch got a clip.
Joyner claimed that if this memo is in fact true, Trump would have been well within his rights to ask Comey to shut down the Flynn investigation. To hear Joyner talk, when a president merely asks for an investigation to be halted, “that is not obstruction to just ask him.” Moreover, Joyner contends that Trump would have had a good-faith reason to make such a request.
“And there is a reason they’re asking. Not because they’re trying to hide their guilt. It’s because the FBI under Comey has been so devoted to majoring on minors, and missing the big things that they exist to take care of, like terrorist attacks.”
Uh huh. So investigating the prospect of a foreign power interfering in our election, as well as the prospect that said power colluded with officials from one of the campaigns to facilitate said interference, is “majoring on minors”? But even without that to consider, longstanding Justice Department regulations would not have allowed Comey or any other Justice Department official to discuss ongoing investigations with the White House.
So once again, Joyner betrays a serious misunderstanding of how the executive branch works. Well, I take that back. That’s not just serious, it’s dangerous. Joyner’s church operates a K-12 Christian school, the Comenius School for Creative Leadership. It makes one wonder what alternative facts are being peddled in that school’s civics and U. S. history curricula.
Like most Trump diehards, Joyner dismisses any talk that Russia hacked the election as fake news. As he sees it, the media is driving this angle because of Vladimir Putin’s adamant opposition to LGBT rights–a factor that has made Putin a religious right darling. Joyner reminded his followers that Putin “hates that whole gay agenda, and will not tolerate it in Russia.” Joyner even went as far as to say that Russia invaded Ukraine in part because that country was becoming more tolerant of the LGBT community.
Joyner told his followers to take heart–Trump still has “favor of God on him.” After all, in the past, people have supposedly counted him out, but “he keeps winning every time.” If that’s the case, Rick, then why does Trump only have a 39.7 percent approval rating? And why are some Republicans using the I-word?
Keep this on file, folks. When Trump finally goes down, Joyner and every other fundie who enabled him must go down as well.
(featured image courtesy Joyner’s Facebook)