The question is more, "Is Trump learning how to play the role of a 'professional politician'"? If the definition of "professional politician" is "stops saying and doing monumentally stupid bleep," then he's got parsecs to go to reach that objective. But in classic "closing the barn door after the horse is Elmer's glue" fashion, he took two grudging, halting, stuttering steps in that direction over the past twenty-four hours.
First, he's - far too late - starting to get the hang of speaking at length about abortion, without actually saying anything substantive or declarative. His remaining problem is that he's even unsubtle about his attempts at subtlety:
Asked how he’d like to change the law to further restrict access to abortions, Trump replied, “The laws are set now on abortion and that’s the way they’re going to remain until they’re changed.” [emphasis added]
That's not even saying nothing; it's question-begging and question-stalling at the same time. "The laws are set now on abortion" - which is true only until they're changed, which he tacks on at the end. But he was asked how he would change them. This is like asking what flavor of bottled water you want, and replying, "If you pour water on me, I'll get wet". Yeah, we know that, but what bleeping flavor of bottled water do you want, numbnut? The point about learning to talk about abortion from a conservative perspective is to minimize drill-down followup questions, as well as to avoid making the interviewer even more hostile than he/she already is. And a candidate can only do that if (1) they're actually pro-life and (2) conversant in the actual pro-life position. Of which Trump is neither.
So he grabbed at another talking point his handlers tossed into his flighty brain like a stray crouton on a cobb salad:
“I would’ve preferred States’ rights,” he added. “I think it would’ve been better if it were up to the States. But right now, the laws are set….At this moment, the laws are set. And I think we have to leave it that way.”.... [emphases added]
So he doesn't want to change abortion laws? But he just got through at least implying that he DID want to change the laws. Wouldn't punishing women for having abortions require changing those laws? And that doesn't even touch on his doubtless complete ignorance of what States' rights even means, which I'm quite certain if the interviewer drilled down on it, Trump would reply with something like, "You know, it was probably a bumper sticker on the General Lee."
Ironic that if he would ever do his homework on the abortion issue, he could both point out that abortion is not a federal issue and is especially not an issue with which the president is empowered to deal, as well as recognizing the opportunity to steer the interview into an opportunity to pander to the Right on judicial appointments.
And then, after making an admittedly much better attempt to parse the abortion issue than this week's earlier disaster, he fell down the stairs and pooped his pants again:
“But you don’t disagree with that proposition, that it’s murder?” Dickerson asked.
“No, I don’t disagree with it,” Trump eventually replied.
What? So he says that abortion is murder but that the laws (at the State level, over which a president should have no power or control) are "set" and should not be changed? Donald Trump condones legalized murder?
Watching the millionaire slumlord try to answer in-depth policy questions is like watching an epileptic perform brain surgery. Even when they're trying to steady their hands they still can't help decapitating the patient.
Has he figured out how to stop his digging his campaign's public relations graves? Possibly, as it looks like Corey Lewandowski is at least getting demoted:
In public, Donald Trump is standing behind embattled campaign manager Corey Lewandowski as he faces battery charges for grabbing a reporter. But behind the scenes, Lewandowski’s role in the campaign is shrinking.
In early March, Lewandowski ceded authority over many hiring decisions to a lower-ranking staffer. In recent days, the campaign’s press office has been overruling his decisions about issuing credentials for campaign events. Going forward, Trump’s just-named convention manager, Paul Manafort, is expected to take a leading role not just in the selection of delegates, but in the remaining primaries themselves, according to three people on or close to the campaign.
If Lewandowski had kept his hands to himself in the first place, Batterygate would never have happened. If he had immediately apologized to Michelle Fields after he arm-dragged her, Batterygate could have been defused before it ever arose. Instead, after initially admitting what he did but acting like it was no big deal (and clearly intimating that it was a-okay to physically accost Obamedia reporters), and then retracting his admission and smearing and insulting Miss Fields as a "liar" and "delusional" even though there was incontrovertible photographic, video, and eyewitness evidence of his actions and the injury he inflicted on her, and Trump doubling down by threatening to file counter-charges and accusing Miss Fields of plotting to blow him up with a "pen bomb," averting Batterygate was impossible, and the more the two "high-energy alpha males" counterattacked, the worse the scandal became, especially in the context of Trump's attacks on Heidi Cruz and his subterranean polling numbers with women voters.
All of which is a circuitous means of saying that after having so loudly and insanely defended him for almost a month, quietly fading Lewandowski out of the picture as the small-time, unqualified, temperamental bit player and mistaken campaign manager hire he was is probably the best option Trump has left at this point, and that appears to be what he's doing. Which would seem to indicate that he is not completely incapable of learning and unwilling to do so. A journey of thousand miles, as the saying goes, begins with a single step. But that's still one long-ass journey.
Or, in this case, not a thousand miles, but precisely 189 days. Because he cannot win in November, and "Trump being Trump" is yielding yet another reason why his crushing defeat is already assured:
Republicans worried about Donald Trump’s steady march toward the party's nomination have taken some solace in the possibility that, despite his toxic comments, the billionaire businessman might still have a narrow path to the White House driven by an upsurge of white working-class male voters. And this group has indeed supported Trump vigorously throughout the primary season.
But as the eminent political theoretician Sir Isaac Newton once put it, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” A new Democracy Corps poll conducted for the Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund illustrates the Democrat counter-reaction to Trump. As this chart shows, interest in the 2016 presidential campaign has soared among each of the key Democrat constituent groups — minorities, millennials, and single white women:
“What you see in this chart,” says Democrat pollster Stanley Greenberg of Democracy Corps, “is big engagement since last December among not only core Democrat groups, but also the swing electorate like college[-educated] women who usually split fairly evenly between the parties.”
“This shows for sure that there’s already a counter-reaction to Trump,” says Greenberg. “And that means we’re getting closer and closer to an earthquake election.” [emphases added]
I'd ask, yet again, whether Trumplicans really want to elect Hillary Clinton to the presidency, and even dimly realize that nominating their hero is the only possible means of doing so, but we already know the answers to those questions. Giving redundant voice to them is more depressing than it's worth.
UPDATE: A Trump....apology?:
After numerous embarrassments this week involving women, Donald Trump grudgingly admitted to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd that "it was a mistake" to re-tweet blatantly contrasting pictures of Heidi Cruz and his wife Melania.
"If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t have sent it," he told Dowd for a column published on Saturday.
Eh; burqa-ized at best. Much more like he was sure it would be a deft, rapier thrust into his opponent's heart, and it wound up whacking himself in the groin. THAT's what he regrets.
And, sho 'nuf, he went on to say....
"I’m just going to be myself," she quoted the candidate as saying. "That’s all I can do."