Juan Williams: Trump's useful idiots

Juan Williams: Trump's useful idiots
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN analyst Kirsten Powers: Melania's jacket should read 'Let them eat cake' CNN's Cuomo confronts Lewandowski over 'womp womp' remark Sessions says FBI agent Peter Strzok no longer has his security clearance MORE has Republicans doing a double-take in front of one of those distorted funhouse mirrors.

With Trump in the White House, Kanye West is now more popular among Republicans than Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioPolitical figures pay tribute to Charles Krauthammer Senate moving ahead with border bill, despite Trump Hillicon Valley: New FTC chief eyes shake up of tech regulation | Lawmakers target Google, Huawei partnership | Microsoft employees voice anger over ICE contract MORE (R-Fla.).

Republicans once denounced West for saying after Hurricane Katrina that President George W. Bush did not “care about black people.”

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Now, he is thrilling white nationalists and some Trump supporters by calling for black people to agree that 400 years of slavery “sounds like a choice” made by black people.

 

West is also being celebrated by Trump supporters as a free thinker for embracing the president as “my boy,” a break with 90 percent of black voters.

“The amount of Republicans with a favorable view of rapper Kanye West increased by 23 percentage points from 2015 to late April 2018, according to a poll from HuffPost and YouGov,” The Hill reported last week.

Meanwhile, Rubio’s once-shining image among Republicans has turned ugly.

Rubio’s sin, in the eyes of the Trump crowd, is saying out loud that the president’s tax cut plan has made corporations and one-percenters even richer, but has done little for American workers.

"There is still a lot of thinking on the right that if big corporations are happy, they're going to take the money they're saving and reinvest it in American workers," Rubio said last week. "In fact…there's no evidence whatsoever that the money's been massively poured back into the American worker."

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in April found a plurality of Americans agree with Rubio.

Thirty-six percent call the Trump tax cuts a “bad idea.” And 53 percent say much higher deficits caused by the tax cuts — as well as rising income inequality resulting from the windfall for rich people and big corporations — will have a negative impact on the American economy.

Even among Republicans, the Journal reported, only 56 percent think passing the tax cut “was a good idea.”

GOP campaign advertising focusing on the tax cut failed to help the Republican candidate in the recent special election in a Pennsylvania congressional district. The Democrat won the race despite Trump having held a 20-point edge there in 2016.

Rubio, in response to blowback from Trump Republicans, is now shrinking from his earlier critique. His new position is that the tax bill could have been “better for American workers.”

The distorted reflections of Rubio and Kanye among Trump supporters are both tied to economics.

The president told “Fox & Friends” last week that West is a supporter because black unemployment has gone down under his administration.

“Kanye looks and he sees black unemployment at the lowest it’s been in the history of our country,” Trump said. “He sees Hispanic unemployment at the lowest it’s been in the history of our country.”

West, however, never cited economic numbers to justify his support for Trump.

That is because the economic trends that led to the current low unemployment rates started under President Obama.

After peaking at 16.8 percent in 2010, the rate of black unemployment declined by 9 percentage points to 7.8 percent at the start of the Trump Administration.

Under Trump, it has declined close to another percentage point, to 6.9 percent.

“Record low unemployment rates among black Americans are a function of a steady, long-term drop that precedes Trump’s time in office,” wrote Philip Bump in The Washington Post recently.

Bump also noted that Trump’s approval among black voters is down from 15 percent when he took office to 9 percent, while Hispanic support is down from 24 percent to 20 percent.

“There’s no correlation, in other words, between increases in the number of people employed and their views of Trump,” Bump concludes.

In fact, Rubio’s initial assessment of the tax cuts’ failure to help workers gain higher wages is linked to Trump’s low standing with minorities.

The vast majority of the tax bill’s benefits went to the wealthiest Americans, who are disproportionately white. Hardly any of the benefits went to the poorest Americans, who are disproportionately brown and black. It is therefore clear that the policy is not designed to help the economic outlook for most minorities.

In addition, the tax revenue that will now be lost could have been spent on programs designed to keep people out of poverty or to better pay teachers.

But Kanye West is a rapper. He is not an economist. And he is certainly no historian if he thinks blacks made the choice to be slaves.

For years, I have been critical of liberals who demean conservative black intellectuals as sellouts or Uncle Toms. Frankly, it is hypocritical of liberals in the media and academia to dismiss brilliant black conservatives with different views — people like Justice Clarence Thomas, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottGOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border Anti-Trump Republicans better look out — voters might send you packing Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA MORE (R-S.C.).

But a very important distinction needs to made between those serious, principled conservative thought-leaders and the growing class of black, pro-Trump provocateurs looking to cash in, such as Kanye and video bloggers Diamond and Silk.

How long will it take before the pro-Trump black provocateurs realize that funhouse mirrors can’t hide them from the scorn of people who judge their true reflection?

They are useful idiots for Trump and the corporate interests who throw up media distractions while they take the money and run.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.