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The President’s Putative Infallibility

Dear reader,

Hold these two thoughts in mind as we briefly meditate on one the most recent developments in the Trump-Russia-wiretap caper (Michael Flynn’s reported offer to testify for immunity to be addressed elsewhere) :

A.) “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

     (Trump, January 24, 2016)

B.) “74% of Republicans believe President Trump’s evidence-free wiretap claim”

     (CBS News poll March 29, 2017)

Is it possible that (A.) explains (B.)? Legacy media have wrestled with the question:

The New York Daily News – “President Trump’s base is still tapped into his message — even if he hasn’t offered any proof to support it.”

The Atlantic’s Claire Foran was more nuanced: 

” … why do so many Republicans appear to believe the president if there’s no concrete evidence to back him up? A few factors help explain the polling result. To start, it’s possible that many Republicans either believe Trump or are willing to say they do out of a sense of partisan loyalty.

“…While this may appear to be a remarkable feat of self-deception … it may be that people simply wanted to signal support for Trump”

Remarkable indeed, for a president with a 35% approval rating nationally.

Perhaps the Republican “74%-ers” might benefit by reflecting on how such putative infallibility has evolved in the Catholic Church. Modern era Popes have rarely presented the Church’s teaching as infallible — that is, delivering it “ex cathedra” (a divinely revealed dogma). Catholics’ support for so great a leap of faith has dwindled in recent decades. Devout or questioning, they are increasingly demonstrating critical thinking within a framework of centered pluralism.

And Pope Francis, an appropriately humble shepherd in these times, is widely revered in their community.