There's a debate to be had over whether Jerry Falwell Jr. is America's dumbest evangelical leader or just one of the most intentionally malevolent. As with all past iterations of this question, it is not likely to be resolved soon.
Q: [Trump] said, there were very fine people on both sides [in Charlottesville]. Do you believe there were very fine people on both sides?
FALWELL: He has inside information that I don't have. I don't know if there were historical purists there who were trying to preserve some statues. I don't know. But he had information I didn't have. And I believe that he spoke what was--I think he saw videos of who was there. I think he was talking about what he had seen, information that he had that I don't have.
Donald Trump has either dementia or a more severe mental impairment, and does not have "inside information" on anything that cannot be gleaned from watching whatever was on Fox News in the 45 minutes before he opens his mouth—as Falwell himself stumbles into suggesting.
This is from this morning's "This Week", on ABC; we also probably need to start having the debate over whether networks should reconsider booking this Jeffrey Lord of the evangelical movement.
If at some point your devotion to defending the sexual-assault-bragging-of symbol of American greed and xenophobic prejudice requires you to both sides neo-Nazis, the Confederate-flag-wavers, the open white nationalists and the people wielding torches and chanting about the Jews as, quite possibly, merely devoted historical purists, you may have lost whatever plot you were once going for.
Trump “doesn't say what's politically correct, he says what's in his heart ... and sometimes that gets him in trouble,” Falwell said. “He’s not focus grouping every word he says.”
That is an interesting perspective, for a would-be Christian leader. The problem is not what is in Donald Trump's heart; the problem is Donald Trump says what is in his heart out loud. What a fascinating theological discussion that would be.
“My support for the president is his bold and truthful willingness” to name names, Falwell said, joining a chorus of Trump defenders who criticize former President Obama’s response to similar national crises. “That’s something we haven’t seen in presidents in recent years.”
Falwell has been a compulsive defender of Trump's actions, and the words that come from Trump's heart, since the moment he first affixed himself remora-like to Trump's tattered movement of xenophobes and conservative burn-it-all-downers. There's nothing to be done about it, really—we can't change what's in Jerry Falwell Jr.'s heart—but it feels like something we need to note for future records. Just as we should note that even as business leaders abandon the Trump ship and Republican leaders clam up tight, the American evangelical movement still, even now, stands by him.