MSNBC's Joy Reid Compares George W. Bush to Trump: At Least 'There Was a Soul'

MSNBC host Joy Reid and columnist Leonard Pitts discussed the "cult-like" religiosity of President Donald Trump's supporters, saying that at least former Republican President George W. Bush had a "soul."

Reid and the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer expressed shame for the GOP after a recent poll found more Republicans think Trump is a better president than Abraham Lincoln. The pair said the poll is revealing of the Trump administration as more of a religious "cult" that is taking advantage of predominately white evangelical Christians.

"[The Lincoln poll] sort of speaks toward the delusionary aspect of the Republican Party right now. This is not a party, this is a cult, and it has been a cult for a long time," Pitts said Saturday on Reid's AM Joy program.

"And it wasn't just this Abraham Lincoln quote, what was it a week or so ago, maybe not even that, that Rick Perry said Trump was the 'chosen one'? And he wasn't even the first person to say that," Pitts added. "It's amazing."

Reid said it's not pejorative to call Trump supporters a "cult" because there's plenty of evidence it is a "racial and religious cult of personality in which his base is solidly among the white evangelicals that almost worship him and say that he's the chosen one of God."

Pitts concurred, describing the ecumenical similarities between how Christians view Jesus Christ and how Trump supporters view the president.

"When I say that, I'm not being rhetorical. I mean that literally, that there is a very cult-like aspect with what we're seeing going on with Trump, particularly in the aspect of him being 'He Who Must Not Be Questioned' in all of his idiocies, in all of his incompetence, in all of his mendacities that must be explained through the framework of him being infallible," Pitts said.

"In other words if you see him being wrong, it's not him being wrong, it's him being so right that it's beyond your puny ability to understand," he noted with nervous laughter.

Reid recalled there were aspects to the "One Must Not Question George W. Bush" authoritarian element of the former Republican's presidency. "There were loyalty oaths that you had to sign to show up at his rallies," she said.

"But he was a recognizable adult," Pitts replied, conceding he had very few positive things to say about the 43rd president. When the younger Bush left office in 2009, he had a favorability rating of just 33 percent in the aftermath of his administration misleading the country into two foreign wars in the Middle East.

"[Bush] began to wake up toward the end of his presidency, he knew he'd been led off the cliff. He was a fundamentally decent guy...at the very least there was a soul, a heart there," Reid said. "There at least seemed to be something human inside of him."

"There was a soul there," Pitts agreed. "[With Trump], there is no bottom. Trump supporters want easy answers, they can't deal with the complexities."

Earlier in Saturday's show, Reid spoke with Larry Pfeiffer, Director for Intelligence, Policy and International Security, and former Obama White House official, who echoed the cult-like element of the Trump presidency.

"There's a certain segment of the Republican Party that realizes when this Trump thing is over, the Republican Party is going to be in some serious hurt for a period of time," Pfeiffer said. "Traveling in the wilderness, not in power."

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MSNBC host Joy Reid and columnist Leonard Pitts discussed the "cult-like" religiosity of President Donald Trump's supporters, saying that at least former Republican President George W. Bush "had a soul." CHIP SOMODEVILLA / Staff/Getty Images
MSNBC's Joy Reid Compares George W. Bush to Trump: At Least 'There Was a Soul' | U.S.