When the anchor throws to Carly Fiorina for her reaction to Trump's momentum, Trump's expression sours in schoolboy disgust as the camera bores in on Fiorina. "Look at that face!" he cries. "Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!" The laughter grows halting and faint behind him. "I mean, she's a woman, and I'm not s'posedta say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?"This is an obnoxious thing for Trump to say, and in a just world it would sink his campaign -- but come on, folks, do we really think that's going to happen? Insulting Megyn Kelly and John McCain did Trump no harm. He's so bulletproof right now that we don't even check back to see whether his front-runner status is threatened by, say, his support for welcoming some Syrian refugees to America, or his rejection of Kim Davis's gay marriage protest.
Why would this hurt Trump? Ask his supporters why they like him and you're guaranteed a knee-jerk recital of the same talking point -- in fact, it's right there in the Rolling Stone story:
"I like that he's not politically correct -- we don't have time for that here," says Lise, a frost-tipped blonde....No, Trump didn't go too far this time; he'll get away with this, too. But the profile is still worth reading, because it's a sign of how the coverage of Trump really might evolve if he keeps winning.
The profile's author, Paul Solotaroff, seems to be in awe of Trump and his trappings:
A week or so earlier, I'd been summoned to Trump's office at his glitter-bomb cathedral, Trump Tower. It is hard to overstate the effect of the building on your sense of dimension and place. You walk into a lobby that is half-Vegas, half-Vatican, a vaulting altar of brass and obsidian that soars halfway to heaven, where they serve dark-roast. There's a Starbucks somewhere up in the sky-high atrium, not far from the 60-foot waterfall. You fight the urge to dunk your head in the pool where it collects, and try, instead, to regain your wits on the whooshing ride up to the 26th floor.Seriously? Solotaroff enters this cathedral of piss-elegance and experiences derangement of the senses? Maybe it's just me -- I used to work a few blocks south of Trump Tower and occasionally shop in a grimy Tower Records in the basement. Entering the lobby, I felt nothing. What's so awe-inspiring about gull-the-rubes gilt?
And it's not as if Solotaroff is a hick from the sticks -- he lives in the city and is the son of a legendary New York book editor.
But his wide-eyed wonderment extends to Trump himself:
You don't do a fraction of what he's done in life -- dominate New York real estate for decades, build the next grand Xanadus for the super-rich on the far shores of Dubai and Istanbul, run the prime-time ratings table for more than 10 years and earn a third (or sixth) fortune at it -- without being immensely cunning and deft, a top-of-the-food-chain killer.(Trump hasn't "dominate[d] New York real estate for decades" -- the city is full of high-end master-of-the-universe megabuilders -- but never mind.)
To sit alone with Trump is to be whipsawed and head-snapped by his sentences that start and stop, his thoughts that take hard detours or suddenly become questions in midstream. But as I learn in Hampton, exactly none of this will matter once Donald Trump takes the stage. The second those klieg lights hit him, he'll find his maestro voice, that nimble and knowing schoolyard brogue that doesn't miss a trick or a chance to pounce. Besides, he'll say the exact same unscripted things he said in Michigan days earlier and will say again tomorrow at the Iowa State Fair, all of it word for word from memory. You may lament Trump's message, but you can't move him off it. It's like trying to stop a 757.And more:
As we stand there, hundreds of feet above New York, gazing on the Lilliputian tourists, it occurs to me to wonder: How on Earth, from this vantage, did Trump see into the hearts of underemployed white folk? How did he know that they stewed and simmered over free trade, immigrants and fat-cat Republicans who'd sold them down the river for decades? How did he guess that they'd conflated those things to explain the flight of factory jobs, and that all they really cared about, besides the return of those jobs, was that someone beat the hell out of the party hacks -- the Jeb Bushes and Scott Walkers and Karl Roves?Trump, the Alpha Male! Trump, the Great Communicator! Trump, Man of the People! It's like a verbal version of the pre-Iraq War propaganda murals depicting Saddam Hussein, variously, in a suit or an Arab headdress, brandishing a weapon or a carrying a bowl of food, or sometimes riding a horse into battle.
... But the answer to my question is ringing in the air -- specifically, in the echo of Trump's accent. He was raised around lunch-pail guys in Queens and learned to talk like them trailing his father to building sites. He shares the syntax and sympathies of meat-and-potatoes types, and has crafted his message for their ears expressly, calling out the enemies on their list.
If Trump starts rolling up delegates next year, this, increasingly, is what the coverage of him is going to be like. His boorishness is going to be depicted as shrewdness. His ignorance is going to be described as intuitive brilliance.
For now, Solotaroff's lack of skepticism must have Hunter Thompson rolling over in his grave.