Even though Donald Trump’s approval rating has ticked upward, it’s still in pretty brutal territory. At last report, FiveThirtyEight pegged Trump’s average approval rating at 41.4 percent–the lowest for a newly-elected president at this stage on record. Trump’s unpopularity is clearly dragging down the party downballot. FiveThirtyEight also crunched the numbers for the generic congressional ballot, and found that on average, Democrats have a 47-40 lead in the race for control of the House.
Those numbers would make any Republican desperate. But a certain element of the GOP fringe is really getting desperate. How do we know? They want Trump to start a war with North Korea in hopes that it will save both his hide and the Republican majority on Capitol Hill.
On Valentine’s Day, religious right commentator Gordon Klingenschmitt brought fellow far-right podcaster Josh Bernstein to his show, “Pray in Jesus’ Name News,” to discuss the situation with North Korea. Bernstein is one of the rising stars on the right-wing web. Like most of his compatriots, he offers “commentary” that makes the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity sound like squishes by comparison. For instance, he once dismissed the Women’s March as a “million skank march,” has called for Muslims to be wiped out, and wanted liberals hauled into court for treason in the aftermath of Charlottesville.
But those remarks were models of sanity compared to what Bernstein suggested as a solution to the Republicans’ current polling woes–go to war with Kim Jong-un. People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch got a clip.
About six-and-a-half minutes into the show, Bernstein wrung his hands about how the Democrats were blind to the threat posed by North Korean missile tests. To his mind, it was proof that the Democrats were “dangerous to the survival of our nation,” and could not be trusted with national security decisions.
For that reason, he believed it was time to “get rid of this North Korean regime.” However, if he were advising Trump, he would suggest going to war “around late September, early October.” Why? To keep the gavel out of Nancy Pelosi’s hands.
“I believe the American people, at that point, more than likely will not change Congress if they’re in the middle of a conflict, based on history.”
Bernstein recalled that a first-term president’s party usually hemorrhages House and Senate seats during midterm elections. Combined with a number of Republican lawmakers heading for retirement, he believes Republicans are in “a touchy situation.” It led him to suggest that it might be time to “take out this regime” sometime in the fall. He believed it would be akin to the plot line of the 1997 film “Wag the Dog,” in which a dirty trickster cooks up a bogus war in order to deflect from a sex scandal that threatens to derail the president’s reelection campaign.
Klingenschmitt let Bernstein rail before saying with a straight face that “we are not advocating war for political purposes. Um, Chaps? That’s exactly what Bernstein openly admitted he was doing. And if Trump were to take Bernstein up on that advice, he would indisputably be committing an impeachable offense. If throwing American troops into a meat-grinder solely to keep from losing Congress isn’t a high crime, nothing is.
It would be easy to dismiss this as “just the Internet.” But there are two things to consider. For starters, Klingenschmitt and Bernstein are essentially speaking to the choir. They are merely saying what a number of other wingnuts are probably saying in unguarded moments–or at least, when they think they’re in unguarded moments. For another thing, we have to consider that we have a president who often gets advice from the likes of these far-right bloviators.
The mere fact that we even have to ask whether a president will start a war just to keep complete control of the federal government in his party’s hands should send a chill down our spines.
(featured image courtesy Zennie Abraham, available under a Creative Commons BY-ND license)