Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Trump Rebels, Sacks Paul Manafort, Reinstates Corey Lewandowski

by JASmius

Because Trump gotta be Trump.

But here's what I don't get about this latest development: Didn't Trump bring Manafort and his political pros in to take over his campaign from the rank amateurs who were crashing it via its more or less complete absence of organization and ground game, of which neither he nor they had the slightest idea precisely because he and they were rank amateurs?  Trump got skunked in Colorado and Wyoming and has set himself up for post-first ballot defeat because he didn't have staffers and handlers who knew what they were doing.  Team Manafort's job, presumably, was to plug those gaps (as best they could under the belated circumstances) and try, somehow, to prepare Trump for a general campaign that is already going to be the mother of uphill struggles.  To try and win, in July and in November, in other words.  If Trump does want to win, that's the only way to do it.

Sure, Trump gotta be Trump.  But if he didn't want to change, or "project a presidential image," why did he demote the misogynist and bring in Manafort in the first place?  That doesn't inspire much in the way of confidence in The Donald's managerial competence, and bespeaks years of policy chaos coming of a hypothetical Trump White House, to say nothing of reemphasizing his emotional and perhaps mental instability as well.

My best guess?  Trump got out-"wrangled" for a few weeks, bowed to the wisdom of the political professionals for the moment, and as soon as he won New York last week (which he was always going to do), he took that as "proof" that he was "right" in the first place and didn't need to run a competent campaign, but could just go back to "winging it":

Trump became upset late last week when he learned from media reports that Manafort privately told Republican leaders that the [m]illionaire [ex-]reality TV star was “projecting an image” for voters and would begin toning down his rhetoric, according to the sources. They said that Trump also expressed concern about Manafort bringing several former lobbying colleagues into the campaign, as first reported by Politico....

In particular, multiple sources said Trump was bothered by news stories about Manafort’s representation of Saudi Arabia and for a group accused of being a front for Pakistani intelligence.

“I don’t think he was aware of the extent of the work that Paul has done in foreign countries that have not always been friendly to the United States,” said a Washington operative with close relationships to the campaign....

I don't know which is more stunning: that Trump didn't know this part of Manafort's background (I thought that was one of the principle reasons why Trump selected him), or that Trump would have a problem with any of it.  The man is almost as big of a Putin fanboy as Trump is.  What's not to like?  Like Lewandowski, Manafort seems to be a mirror image of Trump, only with a level of political knowledge to which the latter is evidently self-destructively allergic.

Multiple sources said that Trump in recent days has re-empowered Lewandowski to handle the campaign’s finances and make some hiring decisions, partially reversing changes Manafort laid out this month when seizing some decision-making authority from Lewandowski.

I hope Michelle Fields has hired a private security detail.

What did Manafort do wrong?  Basically, try to protect his boss's weaknesses.  "Winging it" may turn on the small fraction of the electorate that loves Il Douche, but it buries him with everybody else.  Manafort wrote a victory speech for Trump a week ago in New York; the slumlord took one look at it and tossed it in the shredder, although his ad libbing was toned down a bit (for him).  Manafort stopped the booking of Trump on the Sunday morning news programs where he is more likely to be asked policy questions about which he is utterly and completely ignorant, as his recent faceplants on abortion and federal government policy priorities and North Carolina's bathroom law howlingly exposed.  Because if all you've got are bumper sticker slogans, and your policy knowledge is the kiddie pool at Munchkin Land, it's better for you if you don't make that obvious to the electorate you're trying to scam.

That is in no way to say that Manafort was trying to keep Trump off of TV entirely - all the fawning, idolatrous Fox fluff interviews would still have been fair game, and he's even got the "I made Megyn Kelly submit to my manly swagger" interview coming up next month.  Those interviews, to the degree that any of them do, actually help his potential general election candidacy, or at least do it significantly less damage.  But serious sit-downs where he's going to get challenged and melt down and make an ass of himself?  Not a good idea.

But "nobody controls Trump," right?  Even if it would decrease the long odds of winning in November.  But "Trump gotta be Trump," I guess.  C'est la vie.

How crazoid (or, in AP's apt label, "Bronx Zoo") has this Trump civil war gotten?  Check out this Tweet from Roger "Days of Rage" Stone:

This is the loony tunes, drama queen, hyper-narcissist wacko Trumplicans want to make leader of the free world, my friends.  Sure sounds like a worthy successor to Barack Hussein Obama to me.

And there are an emerging number of recovering ex-Trumpers from whose eyes the scales have begun to fall.

Michael Brendan Dougherty:

Trump cannot succeed in a general election without an unforeseeable intervention from beyond our normal politics - think a sudden economic crash, a terrorist attack, or the likelihood of war.

And not even then, really.  Especially not even then.  Why would any voters in their right mind turn a wildly unstable and volatile situation over to a wildly unstable and volatile man to roil it disastrously further?

A little campaign makeover certainly won’t change what is now the most well-defined and lustily disliked campaign in modern memory. The Trump reboot will not make Trump viable. It just makes his new campaign manager viable. This is nothing more than another layer of orange-hued makeup on an orange-hued corpse of a campaign.

Which Trump may be implicitly conceding by switching horses again in mid-steam, though only Freudianly.

Grant Stinchfield:

Donald Trump is off the rails. He is a train wreck. It’s not just his antics and childish behavior that has me so put off, it’s his failure to improve as a candidate.

Actually, Trump always was an off-the-rails train wreck.  Beats me why Stinchfield thought that he would ever change, or be capable of changing.  The only reason he's gotten as far as he has in the GOP primaries is that his supporters are just as emotionally and mentally irregular as he is.

After nine months on the campaign trail, I expected Trump to fully grasp the issues and have in-depth policy solutions to our problems. Yet he still is “winging it.” He has failed to surround himself with top-notch, respected experts to craft a legitimate conservative platform.

Or at least, until recently.  For a couple of weeks.  Because, once again and forever more, Donald Trump is not a conservative.

The reality is now clear: Trump has no depth, and he fails to grasp even the most basic conservative principles.

Because, once again and forever more, Donald Trump is a liberal Democrat.  You can't speak the language of a country to which you've never been.

Stinchfield, to his everlasting credit, confesses and repents of his Trumplican sins:

I fell victim to my own hatred. Donald Trump offered me a vehicle to stick it to the bloviating bureaucrats I despise. I dedicated my life to exposing self-promoting career politicians and their love of big government programs. Trump was the guy who was going to scare the hell out of the “establishment,” the guy who was going to turn Washington on its head. So I voted with anger in my heart. I gave my vote to Trump with expectation he would find his way by putting smart constitutional conservatives by his side. Trump didn’t find his way; he got lost. [emphases added]

No, Trump was not, never was, and still isn't what you thought he was.  That's the con.

Sadly, I did exactly what my mother always warned me not to do. I made an important decision while in an emotionally fragile state of anger and despair. My vote for Trump amounted to a vendetta against the ruling class of DC career politicians. I made a mistake.

It’s why I am publicly apologizing to governors Rick Perry and Scott Walker. I abandoned them way too early. I now realize their level-headed grasp on conservative values and principles would have made them the perfect candidates to carry a torch of limited government straight into the White House. [emphases added]

Yes, it would have, Grant.  There's no question about it: You f'd up, and your confession doesn't obviate the enormous damage to conservatism, constitutionalism, and the Republican Party to which you have contributed.  But speaking only for myself, this #NeverTrumper forgives you in the spirit of Christian grace.  May the lessons you have learned not be heaved overboard at the caterwauling onset of the next fit of "populism".  That's all I ask of Trumplicans, after all.  That you all come to your senses and rejoin the struggle to resurrect the Old American Republic that you have critically wounded.  I, at least, don't carry grudges.

Meanwhile, the "shadow" delegate recruitment contest Corey Lewandowski royally FUBAR'd and for which Trump is scapegoating Paul Manafort continues to be a Ted Cruz romp:

Ted Cruz notched another delegate landslide Saturday, stretching his advantage in a competition that might never occur: the second ballot of a contested Republican National Convention in July.

Cruz won at least sixty-five of the ninety-four delegates up for grabs Saturday (he may have won more than sixty-five, but Kentucky’s twenty-five delegates haven’t revealed their leanings). The Texas senator has so thoroughly dominated the fight to send loyalists to the national convention that if front-runner Donald Trump fails to clinch the nomination on the first ballot, Cruz is well-positioned to surpass him — and perhaps even snag the nomination for himself — when delegates are free in subsequent convention rounds to vote for whomever they want.

On Saturday, he nearly won nineteen of twenty seats available in Maine, losing just one to a Trump backer: Governor Paul LePage. He also won all nine delegates on the ballot in three Minnesota congressional districts, picking up support in the lone State won by Marco Rubio. Cruz also grabbed one of three delegates in South Carolina’s Sixth Congressional District, while the other two went to an uncommitted delegate and a supporter of Ohio Governor John Kasich.

Cruz’s biggest windfall, though, came from Utah, where at least thirty-six of thirty-seven national delegates will be aligned with Cruz, who crushed Trump in the State’s caucuses on March 22nd. Included in the Utah delegation: Senator Mike Lee, Governor Gary Herbert and Representatives Mike Bishop and Mia Love. Only Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, the thirty-seventh delegate, is a wild card — he hasn’t revealed who he supports.

Trump has to go over 1,237 before the Cleveland convention to win the nomination, which is highly unlikely to happen.  If he falls short, Ted Cruz will be the GOP standard-bearer.  It's as simple as that.

Incidentally, this is apparently Donald Trump's idea of "delegate recruitment":

When Donald Trump’s campaign dispatched Joe Uddo, a former Ben Carson aide, to Delaware last week, he had a mission: twist a few arms to get Trump supporters into the state’s delegation to the national convention.

Uddo may have twisted a bit too hard: State GOP insiders say Uddo ripped their long-standing process from his very first phone call and hinted he might refer it to Trump’s high-powered law firm, Jones Day. Then, he suggested that continued resistance could lead to a nasty Trump campaign tweet about “backroom deals in Delaware,” according to three sources familiar with Uddo's interactions....

Uddo and the Trump campaign declined requests for comment. Trump’s Delaware chairman, Rob Arlett, also did not respond to a message seeking comment.

This thug was a Ben Carson aide?  God Almighty, what is the matter with you, Trumplicans?  Is "threaten your way to the nomination" really the maxim for which you stand?  This is WAY more disgusting than how John Kasich may or may not eat.  You should all be ashamed of yourselves - if, of course, any of you were capable of it.  Which Messrs Dougherty and Stinchfield have proven is not entirely impossible.  I'd highly and strongly urge you to follow their example.

Exit quote from "an operative close to the Trump campaign": "That’s Trump. If you try to force him into a box, he’s going to climb out of the box just to prove it to you. If you say he’s going to be more presidential, all you did is make him less presidential.”

Except he was never presidential in the first place.  Which some of us saw from the beginning and tried to warn everybody else about.  And too few of you listened and heeded.  Oh, well.

One thing's certain: After this sorry debacle is finally, mercifully over, we're all going to need delousing.  It's just that for some of us, it won't including the mental variety.  Which means it'll NEVER be over.

UPDATE: Is the Cruz-Kasich alliance expanding?:

Whither California? GOPer familiar w/the two sides sez Cruz and Kasich forces will sit down to discuss non-compete pact in Golden State 1/2

UPDATE II: Here's a better exit quote:

A historically-literate conservative stands on a soapbox, addressing a crowd. “As Americans, we are born free men and women. Our rights are endowed by our Creator, and our forefathers fought and died to protect that principle,” he pleads. “We do not need a nanny state! We are not children! The state is not our family! The president is not our father!”

To which all the Donald Trump supporters in the audience reply: “Daddy’s going to win! Daddy’s going to win! Hooray!”

UPDATE III: I guess Joe Uddo really was a Ben Carson aide, judging by how the Doc now defines "people who would do whatever it takes to achieve their goals":

I had another Carson lamentation all ready to go, but Allahpundit beat me to it:

[D]oes this guy know which campaign he’s affiliated with? He’s talking here as if Cruz and Kasich agreeing not to compete with each other in a few States is some ominous character failing that suggests trouble ahead if one becomes president rather than a rudimentary strategic ploy that even a third-grader could understand. Meanwhile, the guy he’s endorsed consistently raises the prospect of riots if he doesn’t get his way while one of his top cronies wants to send angry Trump fans to delegates’ hotel rooms to hold “discussions” with them. Before that, Trump spent the entire campaign boasting about how clever he was in gaming a corrupt system by exploiting its corporate bankruptcy laws and lining the pockets of Democrat pols to buy influence. He’s also famously litigious, knowing that many defendants don’t have the resources to fight in court and will bend to his will to avoid a long battle whether they’re right on the merits or not. And here’s the thing: Trump’s fans love him for all of this. His ruthlessness, they’ll tell you, is what America needs in a president. The reason he wins, wins, wins, wins, wins is precisely because he’s willing to do whatever it takes to achieve his goals. Remember when he told a debate audience that he’d issue illegal orders to the military and they’d surely obey? That doesn’t bother Carson as an example of ambition gone mad but John Kasich deciding to pull out of Indiana does? What the hell happened to this guy? Was he like this all along? [emphases added]

My conclusion?  Ben Carson is weak.  He's a beta-male, and Donald Trump turned him into one of his personal bitches.  Of course, he did the same thing to Chris Christie, but when's the last time you've seen him on TV outside New Jersey?  He knew how he looked after he endorsed Trump, standing behind him holding his coat at that humiliating presser.  But Carson still lets himself be rolled out there to debase himself on a regular basis.  It's one of the most vivid examples of Stockholm Syndrome I've ever seen.

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