I thought that line from The New York Times was funny even before Stephen Bannon joined Sean Spicer, Mike Dubke, Michael T Flynn, Anthony Scaramucci, and about a dozen others in the list of those fired by President Trump.
I was going to try it on Bob Mann, but I didn’t think it would work. Bob Mann is a Trump Man and also a good friend of mine.
Bob is an electronics engineer, and every time I’ve been working in the US over the past couple of decades, he’s been the one to upgrade or fix the computers used. He’s
efficient, effective, punctual and a Trump man.
Before Trump came on the scene, Bob had also favoured George W Bush, which seemed bad at the time, but it’s amazing how a few months of The Donald can move a guy like Bush up the rankings. If, that is, you’re coming from where I’m coming from. Which is clearly not where Bob Mann is coming from, and so, up to now, the two of us have kept political discussion at the lightest and frothiest level.
Last week, I decided to go a bit further, and interview Bob about his loyalties, first putting it to him that he’s a member of The Deplorables. He laughed.
“Proud member,” he confirmed. “I think it was Hillary Clinton that brought about the term. Did I identify with it? It was actually probably a compliment that from her point of view, a normal man was deplorable. So yeah, I identified with it. Common is probably a better word. A common man. Not an elite man. A working common man who is not afraid to express his views: As long as I feel confident that my ideas are just, I don’t care they are rejected.”
Bob maintains that “like most people” he went through a kind of political youth where he was vaguely liberal in his beliefs.
“As I became more aware of the world around me, knowing what’s at stake, that changed,” he says.
He began to examine the direction in which America was going, its economy, the strength and power of its government.
He sees the system as “over-reaching in a way that limits the freedoms of the people. Simple basic example: over taxation. How much is it fair to take from the common man in order for the government to spend. I would pay somewhere between 25% and 30% of my salary in income tax, and I don’t wish that spent on entitlement programmes.”
He does not, however, have a problem with spending on arms: “Because arms means military might and readiness and capacity to fight. If you look at North Korea and Iran emerging as nuclear powers, Russia to a lesser extent, at what point do you want to be able to stop the North Koreans, the Iranians and other emerging countries from using nuclear weapons? You have to hope that it won’t have to be done militarily. But you need to be ready.”
Although Trump’s popularity has plummeted in the brief time he has been president, this drop in popularity has not, thus far, greatly affected his core vote, and that core vote incorporates people like Bob, who still cleaves to the notion of Trump as anti-establishment.
I point out that Trump is filthy rich, Ivy League educated, and inherited much of his wealth, and ask how on earth that can be interpreted as anti establishment. Bob looks puzzled.
“He wasn’t a politician,” he explains as if it’s obvious. “Trump’s anti political establishment. We haven’t gotten anything different from the political establishment. Ever. They all have the same mindset. They don’t listen to the people. They by-pass their own rules for their own well-being. For example, they exclude themselves from Obamacare while the ordinary people can’t exclude themselves. That’s hypocrisy. That’s hypocrisy driven into law.
The House and Senate members are excluded from having to live under the Obamacare mandate. So they exclude themselves from laws they write or pass that affect others. That’s the Establishment.”
Bob believes most of the negatives expressed about Trump are explicable by examination of sources. Democrats are saying a lot of what they’re saying out of bias. International leaders don’t like Donald because “he’s an outspoken person. He says what he feels. I don’t think politicians are used to that.”
Before the contentious firing of Bannon, the controversy of the week was Trump’s comments on Charlottesville, which riled everybody other than people like Bob.
“I thought his tweet was fine. He came out and said it was a bad msituation, an incredible situation, a situation that shouldn’t have happened and hopefully will not occur again in the United States. He said that both sides were bad, which was what aggravated the hard left.
"They didn’t like to hear their hard left base considered bad. But if you look at his exact wording, he came down on both sides equally hard. Look, let’s face it, no matter what the guy says, he’s not going to get a pass. They’re always gonna move the goal posts, Hillary was supposed to win. She didn’t.
"He did. They don’t like him. I do think he’s being treated unfairly. Hypocritically unfairly. Have you watched the mainstream media? The number of stories that are pro Trump and the ones anti?”
The way Bob Mann sees it, Trump’s only been in office for eight months. During that time, he has added more than a million jobs to the economy and set the stock
exchange on an upward trajectory.
When I suggest that groups ranging from Jews to Muslims to women are frightened by Trump, he asks why women would be, and when I quote the infamous Trump line about grabbing women by their privates, simply asks if that’s worse than having Monica Lewinksy lying on the Oval Office floor.
The attacks in the last few days on public statues commemorating Confederate leaders provoke another rhetorical question.
“Is the rule of anarchy the way we’re going to live? If we don’t like something, we’re just gonna go tear it down? There should be a process within which change can take place. Possibly have them removed to a location, a museum, not lose the meaning of the statues, albeit a bad meaning in many cases. I believe it’s wrong to do it that violent way.”
We finish our coffee completely at odds, yet liking each other no less than when he conversation started. Before I click off the iPad recorder, I ask Bob Mann — ordinary, common man and supporter of Trump — how he would describe the new and angry rifts in America.
“A divided nation cannot stand. We have reached a point where it’s hard to communicate one’s point of view without controversial reaction. It’s an awful thing to have gotten to the point where it’s either their way or no way.”