Thursday, August 11, 2016

Donald Trump's Pivot Isn't Coming

Dear Reader (And reading deer),
You know the scene. Radiation is leaking from the control rods and if we don’t close the blast doors, millions will die. Or maybe it’s the army of flesh-eating mutant killer ants coming up from deep within the old coal mine. We have to seal the entrance with TNT or there will be no stopping them. Perhaps it’s an outbreak of a genital-melting super-virus in the underground lab. Or maybe you’re thinking of that moment on the submarine when the containment valves can’t take the pressure. If we don’t seal off section 7G, we’ll lose the whole boat.
“But sir, Jimmy and his team are still down there!”
“Damn it, you don’t think I know that? Close the doors.”
“But sir . . . ?”
“You heard me.”
“Yes sir. [whispering] May God have mercy on our souls.”
If a similar conversation hasn’t already begun at the RNC, it’s going to start pretty soon. We are in the last days of the “He can pivot!” fantasy (and the toll is showing on Trump’s praetorian guard). The Pivot is the dearly held hope of a diverse group of politicians and pundits that Donald Trump can stop being Donald Trump.
I’ve been keeping an informal file cataloging what can only be called case studies of MBSS — Mass Battered Spouse Syndrome. Battered spouses, at least according to the cliché, insist that their partner can change. He’s good inside! He isn’t always like this! He can get better!
A few examples (feel free to skip ahead if you already know what I’m talking about):
-In its April 14 endorsement of Donald Trump, the New York Post wrote:
Should he win the nomination, we expect Trump to pivot — not just on the issues, but in his manner. The post-pivot Trump needs to be more presidential: better informed on policy, more self-disciplined and less thin-skinned.
-From the Associated Press, April 21, 2016:
Trump’s newly hired senior aide, Paul Manafort, made the case to Republican National Committee members that Trump has two personalities: one in private and one onstage. “When he’s out on the stage, when he’s talking about the kinds of things he’s talking about on the stump, he’s projecting an image that’s for that purpose,” Manafort said in a private briefing.
“You’ll start to see more depth of the person, the real person. You’ll see a real different way,” he said. . . .
“He gets it,” Manafort said of Trump’s need to moderate his personality. “The part that he’s been playing is evolving into the part that now you’ve been expecting, but he wasn’t ready for, because he had first to complete the first phase. The negatives will come down. The image is going to change.”
-Here’s Reince Priebus in early May:
“He’s trying. Honestly, he is trying,” Priebus said, staring awkwardly at the floor with a pained expression on his face as Politico’s Mike Allen asked what he thought of a tweet sent out into the ether by the presidential candidate on Thursday in honor of Cinco de Mayo. It pictured Trump eating a taco bowl and giving a thumbs up. The caption read: “I love Hispanics!”
-And later:
“I’ve been clear about that, I’ve said that many times, this is not like breaking news,” he said, before attempting to end on a forward-looking optimistic note. “I think you’re going to see it. I think you’re going to see the change in tone,” he predicted.
Read the rest of Jonah Goldberg's op-ed HERE.

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