No presidential candidate or president has been able to absorb bad news without losing support the way Donald Trump has. If you want to know why, talk to Paul Duffy of Rocky Mount.
Duffy, 72, recently wrote a letter to The News & Observer to say that the media do not give the president enough credit. Duffy, a native of Oxford, is a lawyer who graduated from Atlantic Christian College (now called Barton College) and UNC law school. He’s also an Army veteran of the Vietnam War. After Trump’s rough week last week, I called Duffy to fathom the depth of his support.
l started with a barrage of “what about” questions regarding Trump’s flaws. It was like firing a BB gun at a tank.
What about the criminal troubles of Trump’s former associates, Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen?
“It doesn’t bother me in the slightest,” Duffy said. “I voted for him and I will continue to vote for him.”
What about Trump’s oft-documented failure to tell the truth? “He’s been asked questions that he’s been less than forthcoming about, but he’s not the first politician to do that sort of thing. I suspect his competition in the last election has been as untruthful, if not more so. So that’s not going to change my opinion.”
What about his relentless tweeting? “I believe he thinks it got him elected. I don’t see him stopping. He’s going to continue to tweet. I have no problems with it.”
What about his possible collusion with the Russians? “I don’t believe he’s done that in any respect. I understand the liberals are rabid about that stuff, but to me it’s a nonstarter.”
What about Trump’s being married three times and having affairs? “I’ve been married three times myself. I don’t consider that to be the greatest character flaw there is.”
But what about paying hush money to women? “He may have paid off some of those folks. Did (President) Clinton pay off? Probably JFK paid off.”
What is Trump not getting credit for? “His policies have caused the stock market to soar. The unemployment rate is lower than many years. He has achieved a lot in the field of foreign affairs where he is dealing with (North Korea leader) Kim Jong-un the best he can. Nobody else was able to do the things he has done.”
What about President Obama, he led the country out of the Great Recession and presided over years of economic growth, a big rise in the stock market and a sharp drop in unemployment?
“I am not of the feeling that any of the improvement in the economy is attributable to Obama in any respect. I find that impossible to accept.”
What about Trump’s failure to address climate change? “Right now it’s relatively cool for August in North Carolina. If it gets to be 120 degrees, I’ll have a problem with it.”
Duffy lives in a neighborhood he describes as “70 percent African-American.” He said he gets along well with his African-American neighbors, but does not talk to them about President Trump. He said, “I’m not sure that would be a productive conversation.”
How does he get his news? “I watch Fox News and the Golf Channel. Every now and then I turn it over to CNN until I start to get a little bit nauseous.”
Duffy, injured by exposure to Agent Orange, collects VA disability pay and Social Security. He said he gets those government benefits because he earned them, “not because I’m of a certain race or because I don’t work.”
How would he rate Trump among United States presidents? “Right now, he’s the No. 1 president.”
Trump said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in New York and still his supporters would stick with him. Is that true?
“I don’t think he was being serious, but that would make it difficult,” Duffy said. “There’s no question that his supporters would be willing and able to forgive him a large amount of indiscretions. I don’t know that murder would be forgivable.”
Alas, there’s a limit.