WashPost's Gerson: Evangelicals for Trump 'Sycophantic' and 'Slimy Political Operatives'

March 12th, 2018 11:23 PM

The Washington Post is not known as a staunch defender of Christianity, but a columnist for the liberal newspaper found a way to both criticize evangelicals in this country and slam President Donald Trump all in one stroke.

While a guest during CBS’s Face the Nation program on Sunday morning, Michael Gerson -- a nationally syndicated columnist whose writing appears twice weekly in the Post and who served as a top aide and speech-writer for former Republican President George W. Bush -- hammered evangelicals who support Trump as “slimy political operatives, not moral leaders.”

The segment was introduced by new host Margaret Brennan as a discussion on whether trade would become a major issue in this year’s midterm election, but it didn’t take long for the panelists to swerve into a critique of the GOP occupant of the White House.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You say they have lost their interest in decency. What do you think the evangelicals who support President Trump make of the Stormy Daniels scandal?

MICHAEL GERSON: Well, I think that it is the height of hypocrisy. And we saw it with Roy Moore as well. If any other Democratic president had been guilty of what is alleged in these cases, evangelicals would be, you know, off the reservation. It was a tough choice for many evangelicals between Hillary Clinton and the president. And I understand that.

This is a case where their morality seems to be determined by their politics. And they have ceased to be moral leaders in that sense. It’s — it was a tough choice for many evangelicals between Hillary Clinton and the president. And I understand that.

But they have been the most sycophantic element of the Republican coalition, which was — is unnecessary. They have not provided that moral judgment that I think leavens our politics or should leaven our politics.

Gerson also quoted his article as he hammered evangelicals by “essentially arguing that they have -- they are betraying a great tradition. Evangelicalism really has had a good tradition. And now they’re really undermining the reputation of their faith.”

Brennan then asked the Post columnist: “But, in that judgment, you are saying the transactional part of this relationship isn’t worth the trade-off?”

“Well,” he replied, “they’re acting like, you know, slimy political operatives, not moral leaders. They’re essentially saying ... in order to get benefits for themselves, in a certain way -- they talk about religious liberty and other issues -- but to get benefits for themselves, they’re willing to wink at Stormy Daniels and wink at misogyny and wink at nativism. And that, I think, is deeply discrediting -- not just in a political sense, but actually in a moral and religious sense,” he added.

Earlier in the segment, Gerson complained that Republicans have found resolve in opposing Trump on tariffs: 

I mean, Republicans really have come together, 107 of them [in the House of Representatives], to resist the president’s policy on this, but when you look at all the previous provocations, where they might be critical of the president, it’s tariffs, it’s not misogyny, it’s not nativism and racism. It reveals something about the Republican Party that this is their Red Line.

Meanwhile, the columnist concluded his Atlantic article by writing: “This is the result when Christians become one interest group among many. … Christianity is love of neighbor, or it has lost its way.”