Politico reports Monday morning that evangelical Christian voters are upset that President Donald Trump allegedly took the Lord’s name in vain during a speech at a campaign rally.
But the story was reported by other outlets three-and-a-half weeks ago, and is based on claims by a state senator in West Virginia that three people — three — called to complain. The article also downplays the fact that Hardesty is a Democrat, merely noting that he “describes himself” as such.
The report notes:
Paul Hardesty didn’t pay much attention to President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Greenville, N.C., last month until a third concerned constituent rang his cell phone.
The residents of Hardesty’s district — he’s a Trump-supporting West Virginia state senator — were calling to complain that Trump was “using the Lord’s name in vain,” as Hardesty recounted.
“The third phone call is when I actually went and watched his speech because each of them sounded distraught,” said Hardesty, who describes himself as a conservative Democrat.
Here’s what he would have seen. Trump crowing, “they’ll be hit so goddamn hard,” while bragging about bombing Islamic State militants. And Trump recounting his warning to a wealthy businessman: “If you don’t support me, you’re going to be so goddamn poor.”
The result — which was reported by other outlets in mid-July — was that Hardesty wrote to the president to protest.
It is not clear why Hardesty’s letter is news now to Politico — except that it serves as a basis to attack the president’s standing with evangelical voters, who have been loyal to Trump as he has delivered on policy promises to them.
The irony is that Trump’s so-called “blasphemy” may not be blasphemy at all. As Dennis Prager, author of several books on religion, argues, the third commandment — “Do not take God’s name in vain” — is probably not violated by the colloquial phrase “goddamn.” He writes: “The literal Hebrew — ‘Do not carry God’s name in vain’ — gives a much more reasonable understanding. It strongly implies that the great sin here is one who carries God’s name, i.e., talks and acts religious, but acts contrary to God’s will.”
Some voters, including Trump supporters, object to his rhetoric at times, and may be genuinely offended by “goddamn” — but three phone calls is not a political trend.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.