Monday, April 09, 2018

Stormy Daniels controversy demonstrates how much Trump controls the religious right

The Stormy Daniels controversy probably will not cause a break between Trump and the religious right  because they fear losing the access he gives them.

According to a recent edition of NPR, evangelicals will be meeting with Trump in June and the controversy regarding his alleged payout to porn star Stormy Daniels may come up:

As allegations continue to swirl about the president and a payout to a porn star to cover up a sexual encounter, evangelical leaders are organizing a sit-down with President Trump in June, four sources with knowledge of the planned meeting tell NPR. 
"We're very concerned" about the allegations, said a leader of a faith-based ministry. The leader is involved in hosting the gathering, which organizers are aiming to take place June 19 at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. The source said the combination of the Stormy Daniels sex-scandal allegations and Trump's continued reputation for divisive rhetoric could suppress evangelical turnout in the November midterm elections. 
"It is a concern of ours that 2018 could be very detrimental to some of the other issues that we hold dear," like preserving religious liberty and restricting abortion rights, the source noted. The source, like the others with knowledge of the event, spoke to NPR on the condition of anonymity so as to not jeopardize the meeting.

However, those associated with the meeting are denying this. On Friday, Christianity Today reported:

 . . .  Johnnie Moore, who acts as convenor for the evangelical group, has denied the allegations in the report. He told Christian Today the June meeting was 'at a conceptual level only' at present and that there had been no serious discussion about the format of the event. He added that 'attaching the planning of the meeting to any past, personal accusations against the president is entirely farcical, that isn't the purpose and it has never been a point of discussion ... it would be about the issues'.
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, and a prominent religious right backer of Trump, also said the controversy with Daniels isn't what the meeting will be  about. He attacked NPR for trying to create an "anti-Trump narrative:"

 Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins blasted a recent NPR report claiming that evangelical leaders are organizing a meeting in June with President Donald Trump to discuss their concerns about the Stormy Daniels allegations waged by the political left possibly toppling the conservative agenda in Washington. 
He described that latest attempt by NPR as just another chapter of its ongoing anti-Trump narrative to tear down the Republican leader and party – before the state-subsidized news hub touts its favorite Democratic challenger of Trump for the 2020 presidential election. 
“[The] organizer of the Trump-evangelical summit study said it's not about 'Stormy,'” WND reported on Perkins’ latest tweet on the topic. “Instead, Perkins said there is an effort to organize an event similar to the one held in New York in 2016 at which about 1,000 evangelical leaders gathered to share ideas.” 
Rather, he explains, struggles on Capitol Hill – not character assassination waged by the left – will be at the center of attention this summer for evangelicals. “[The focus will be about] Congress’ poor performance on promises made [since the last election],” Perkins tweeted Saturday.

And to provide an explanation point of his statement, Perkins' group, FRC, posted a statement on its webpage Friday saying pretty much the same thing:

We are inviting a 1,000 evangelical leaders to come to Washington for the day to discuss what has happened on the shared issues of concern since January of last year. The media, which has earned the descriptor "fake news," has been preoccupied with talking about Russia collusion, and the manufactured scandals du jour. The media has not focused on the fact that his administration has advanced the most pro-life policies since Roe v. Wade and is working hard to restore religious freedom that was systematically attacked by the previous administration. We've invited the president and do hope he will join us to continue the conversation that began with evangelical leaders two years ago in New York City. Our concern is that evangelicals are discouraged, not because of details dredged up from the president's past, but from Congress's poor performance on promises made. The GOP's future depends upon evangelicals remaining enthused and engaged, which depends on the president's agenda going forward – and the Left knows it.

So will the controversy with Stormy Daniels come up during this meeting? Do you want my opinion?

Hell yeah.

It's incredibly naive to think that this issue won't come up because the controversy isn't going away. Especially in light of  Monday's FBI raid on the office of  Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen. Cohen was the one who gave Daniels the $130,000 payout. (Editor's note - The NPR article, FRC's, and Perkins's statements were made before the raid on Cohen's office.)

I think Trump's evangelical supporters are attempting to play down any idea that Daniels will come up during the meeting for two reasons - 1. they don't want to create the narrative that Trump's behavior is beginning to seriously worry them. They have too much pride to admit it and also with the midterms coming up, they don't want to do anything to crush the spirits of the evangelical voters they will need. 2. Most importantly, I think they fear Trump's volatile nature. They've seen how he turns on people without any regard to loyalty. Perhaps they fear that any sign of them slacking off supporting him will cause Trump to slash their "access."

So I'm sure Stormy Daniels will come up either during the June meeting or sometime in the future. But I'm also sure that that the religious right fear bringing her up even though they know that they will eventually have to.

 Oh well religious right. You bought it. Now you own it. Just like the GOP learned, the religious right is learning that you can't control Trump's actions, but your greed allows him to control yours.

No comments: