The number of high-profile conservative commentators who enthusiastically support Donald Trump is relatively small. But the number of high-profile conservative commentators who enthusiastically support “Trumpism” is higher. Trumpism is the belief that Trump’s followers constitute the “real America” and that anyone who does not validate their grievances is an elitist who neither understands nor cares about ordinary folks.
Few columnists have embraced Trumpism more fervently than The Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan. In her writing, Noonan rarely cites interviews with actual Trump supporters or polls about what they actually believe. Nonetheless, she regularly speaks on their behalf. “Trump supporters have a more grounded sense of America and its problems” than do GOP elites, she wrote in June. “What Trump supporters believe, what they perceive as they watch him, is that he is on America’s side,” she declared in April. “And that comes as a great relief to them, because they believe that for 16 years Presidents Bush and Obama were largely about ideologies. They seemed not so much on America’s side as on the side of abstract notions about justice and the needs of the world.”
When a commentator employs the verb “seem,” they’re giving themselves permission to ignore what “is.” To many Trump supporters, it certainly does “seem” that Obama isn’t “on America’s side.” After all, fully 59 percent of Trump supporters think he wasn’t born in the United States, according to a May Public Policy Polling survey. And according to a June Quinnipiac poll, 55 percent of Republicans (among Trump supporters, the figure is almost certainly higher) agree with Trump that Obama “may sympathize with terrorist organizations such as ISIS.”