Op Ed

Sykes Must Be Smiling at Trump’s Slump

Talk radio’s scourge of the left now one of Trump’s notable opponents.

By - Jun 12th, 2020 11:22 am
Charlie Sykes. Photo by Steven Potter.

Charlie Sykes. Photo by Steven Potter.

Charlie Sykes, who spent more than two decades on WTMJ as a smart-alecky scourge of the left, has emerged on the national scene as one of the most relentless antagonists of President Trump. He is in then middle of a merry band of conservative thinkers who detest almost everything about the president.

He left his highly divisive talk show in late 2016 after he became a critic of the president, whom he saw as debasing conservative thought, policies and politics. He had become an early and outspoken Never-Trumper. That led to major flak from the Trump believers in his former audience.

It’s hard to say he took bullets from the right, because no one really can really pin down where Trump is coming from.

Charlie and I are far from buddies, but I took some of the same flak in 2016 when I compiled a list of 104 reasons to vote against Trump in the primary and general elections. Washington County didn’t listen to either us and went two-thirds for the President.

The margin in the WOW counties (Washington, Ozaukee and Waukesha), some of the reddest in the country, carried Trump to a small margin of victory in Wisconsin and the award of its ten crucial electoral votes.

For the last couple years, Sykes and his fellow Never-Trumpers appeared to be making little progress in their campaign to unseat Trump as the leader of the country. The president’s base has held firm and his approval percentages stayed in the mid to high 40s.

Charlie and contributors to his blog site, The Bulwark, must be ecstatic now, because that’s all changing fast as the president fails to meet the moment in managing the triple whammy of a racial crisis, the Coronavirus epidemic and the resulting recession, the first in nearly 11 years. His barrage of Twitter blurts, which Sykes labels as bat-sXXt crazy, falls short of serious leadership.

Trumps inadequacies in terms of management and leadership has driven a seven-point drop-off to 38% nationally in his approval rating, down to where previous one-term presidents were before losing a second term. According to a fresh CNN poll, he now trails Sen. Joe Biden by 14 points.

That’s a deep hole, hard to escape from in the remaining five months to the November election. Even a modest rebound in the economy won’t be enough.

Trump will never lose his loyal base, but his support from the middle, from independents, including Republican-leaning independents, is eroding. They are weary of his unending tactics of dividing the country.

In the context of the current protests, the latest polls show 90% of African Americans voting for Biden, against him, in November. How do we ever cross the racial divide with him in the Oval Office?

There are so many improvements under way to make for a more equitable country, such as minorities in high office, such as the recent big jump in graduation rates in the Milwaukee Public Schools that was led by UWM, MATC and MPS leaders. It is up a full 10 points, an amazing accomplishment that will pay big dividends down the road.

There are many other positive advancements — driven by people of all stripes. The protests are fully justified, minus the violence. It would be helpful for the president and the leaders of the protest to acknowledge that the country keeps moving ahead despite some outrageous setbacks. We need to see the positive efforts as part of the healing process.

I worry, though, and I’m sure Sykes does too, that the attempts at healing and solutions will get lost in the vitriol that is engendered from the Oval Office.

John Torinus is the chairman of Serigraph Inc. and a former Milwaukee Sentinel business editor who blogs regularly at johntorinus.com.

Categories: Op-Ed, Politics

6 thoughts on “Op Ed: Sykes Must Be Smiling at Trump’s Slump”

  1. blurondo says:

    “the WOW counties (Washington, Ozaukee and Waukesha), some of the reddest in the country”
    No surpise. These are the counties which were taken over by ‘white flight’ from the city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee county. The politics and prejudices of many of those folks have deep roots there.

  2. suechar says:

    Charlie was so much more than a ‘smart-alecky scourge of the left’ and helped his pal Scott Walker do a great deal of damage in this state. Scott of course still worships at Trump’s altar but let’s not give Charlie too much credit here. He’s not losing sleep worrying about ‘healing and solutions’.

  3. Douglas Johnson says:

    Sorry, but I have no respect for Charlie Sykes, no matter what his position is regarding Trump. In my perspective he is an opportunist, with no credibility. For years he, in somewhat different ways, did exactly what Trump has been doing since he’s been in office. I could no longer listen to Sykes’ radio show when he routinely vilified those he disagreed with, or did whatever he could to disparage and shut down those he disagreed with. He was never open to having a discussion with respect to diverse opinions.
    When he left talk radio his mea culpa was disingenuous and his taking a somewhat centrist and anti-Trump position was more based on his financial goals and advancement than a true change of heart. Sykes’ change of heart reminded me of Lee Atwater, who on his death bed, stated he was wrong in what he did with along with Karl Rove in using dirty tricks in getting Bush elected. Again, too little, too late.

  4. Thomas Martinsen says:

    I am ask skeptical re Charlie’s credibility as all 3 of the first people who responded to this post; nevertheless, I hope that Sykes continues to utilize his vitriolic skills to defeat Trump this November. All hands are needed on deck. Even dirty hands can perhaps get clean by calling out an ignorant autocrat who is doing damage to our democracy.

  5. Thomas Martinsen says:

    Doug Johnson’s remark that Sykes “was never open to discussion with respect to diverse opinions” in his talk radio days is accurate. I called his show a # of times, and I was silenced every time I made a point that countered his screed. My microphone would stop working, and he would say something innocuous such as “we fought that war before … ”

    The damage that Sykes did to our local political discussion when he worked at WTMJ radio makes his current punditry as a reformed reactionary look suspicious. He billed himself as a “recovering liberal.” Now he is selling himself as a _______ ?j

  6. Thomas Martinsen says:

    Is Charlie S. a revived liberal or just a huckster, looking for an audience that will pay him for pontificating?

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