Jeb Bush has kept a relatively low profile in recent months, though the one-time frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination hasn’t changed his mind about the rival who defeated him. In fact, in the former Florida governor’s latest MSNBC interview, Bush shared a prediction of sorts with Republican strategist Nicole Wallace.
Donald Trump’s supporters, Bush said, will “feel betrayed” when his promises go unfulfilled. He added that despite all of Trump’s loud rhetoric, “there isn’t going to be a wall built. And Mexico’s not going to pay for it. And there’s not going to be a ban on Muslims…. This is all like an alternative universe that he created. The reality is, that’s not going to happen.”
Of course, Jeb Bush is a consistent critic of Trump, so one might expect him to say the presumptive GOP nominee won’t keep his promises. But the funny part of all of this is that Trump’s allies say largely the same thing. Politico reported yesterday, for example, on former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who lobbied to be considered for his party’s vice presidential nomination, conceding that Trump’s most notable policy goal will never come to fruition.
“I’m for Donald Trump, and he says we’re going to build a wall, the Mexicans are gonna pay for it,” Perry told Snapchat’s Peter Hamby on “Good Luck America.”Hamby remarked, “It’s not going to happen.”“Well, it’s not,” Perry said, explaining, “It’s a wall, but it’s a technological wall, it’s a digital wall.”
The Texas Republican added, in reference to the idea that there will some imposing border wall, “[L]isten, I know you can’t do that.”
There’s a certain irony to all of this. An unexpected consensus has emerged: Trump critics and Trump supporters are effectively in agreement that the GOP’s presumptive nominee talks a lot, but if you’re counting on Trump actually implementing his agenda, you’re going to be disappointed.
The difference is, Trump detractors intend for this to be criticism. Trump’s allies just don’t seem to care whether the candidate’s rhetoric is believable or not.
The Washington Post had this memorable report a month ago.
The wall along the Mexican border is one of Trump’s most enduring and popular proposals, prompting raucous cheering and chants wherever he goes. Yet many of Trump’s fans don’t actually think he will build a wall – and they don’t care if he doesn’t.Many also don’t think that Trump as president would really ban foreign Muslims from entering the country, seize oil controlled by terrorists or deport 11 million illegal immigrants. They view Trump’s pledges more as malleable symbols than concrete promises, reflecting a willingness to shake things up and to be bold.“Trump says a lot of things right off the cuff. Does he mean it to the ‘T’? I don’t think so,” said Dennis Kerns, 55, a retired elementary-school teacher who lives near Albuquerque and came to the rally with his wife. “When he talks about bombing ISIS and all of that – his advisers aren’t going to let him go off half-cocked and bomb here and bomb there.”
For many Trump supporters, the fact that his hollow rhetoric has no substantive meaning or realistic chance of implementation doesn’t much matter – because his boasts make them feel better. “Build that wall!” gives them an excuse to cheer and thump their chests, even if part of them realizes the wall will never exist, and Trump is just exploiting their knee-jerk emotional reactions to advance his personal ambitions.
And with that in mind, Jeb Bush’s criticisms – Trump will never be able to deliver on his promises – will almost certainly fall flat when it comes to persuading the Republican’s backers. For many Trump supporters, the response will always be the same: “We don’t care!”