Thursday, March 10, 2016

DONALD TRUMP: STILL AN EXTREMIST, BUT NOW HE'S A NICE EXTREMIST

AP's Julie Pace assures us that the mellowing of Donald Trump has begun:
In his own unorthodox way, Donald Trump is unmistakably evolving into a general election candidate.

The over-the-top billionaire is talking about flexibility in his hardline immigration policies. He's pledging to moderate his bullying tone.... he's working to assume the mantle of GOP standard-bearer....
Yes, he's becoming a real pussycat!

Except, as CNN tells us, no, he isn't -- not really:
Donald Trump said Wednesday that he thinks "Islam hates us," drawing little distinction between the religion and radical Islamic terrorism.

"I think Islam hates us," Trump told CNN's Anderson Cooper, deploring the "tremendous hatred" that he said partly defined the religion. He maintained the war was against radical Islam, but said, "it's very hard to define. It's very hard to separate. Because you don't know who's who."

Asked if the hate was "in Islam itself," Trump would only say that was for the media to figure out.

"You're gonna have to figure that out, OK?" he told Cooper. "We have to be very vigilant. We have to be very careful. And we can't allow people coming into this country who have this hatred of the United States."
See, this is the thing about Trump -- he can't stop being Trump. To some extent, he'd be crazy to try, because if he stops talking like a bully as soon as he secures the nomination, he's going to lose his base, which appreciates him precisely because he talks like a bully.

Even the AP's Pace sees that Trump isn't changing completely:
To be sure, Trump is still very much doing things his way.... His calls for party unity are still bracketed by jabs at rivals "Little Marco" Rubio and "Lying Ted" Cruz.
I read Tom Friedman's column yesterday, and he understands this to some extent:
One of the lessons I learned covering the Middle East is that the only good thing about extremists is that they don’t know when to stop -- and in the end, they often do themselves in. See: Saddam Hussein.
Although Friedman also echoes the conventional wisdom:
... if he wins the nomination he will have no problem moving to the center to appeal to independents and minorities. He will have no problem playing the moderate unifier -- and plenty of people will buy it, saying: “Why not give him a chance? He says he can make us winners.” Sure, Mexico will have to pay for that wall, Trump will say, but it will be in “installments.” Deport 11 million illegal immigrants? C’mon, don’t you know an opening bid on an immigration bill when you hear one? Ban all Muslims? Well of course we can’t ban a whole faith community, but Trump will vow to be much harder on visas from certain countries. Have you never read “The Art of the Deal”?
I'm just not convinced that Trump can thread this needle. I suppose it's possible -- maybe he can limit his extremism to those subjects on which extremism doesn't turn off middle-of-the-road voters (and maybe the alleged evils of Islam fall into that category, regrettably). But Trump is also going to run a gutter-level gossip campaign against Hillary Clinton. That's going to be offputting enough. I just don't think he'll do that and restrain himself in most other ways.

I should note that the AP story sees Trump mellowing because he seems to be mellowing toward the GOP establishment:
One party concern about a Trump nomination is that he would cost the GOP both the White House and its Senate majority. In battleground states like Ohio and New Hampshire in particular, Republican senators up for re-election could face constant questions about his policies and personal insults, forcing them to talk more about him than their own campaigns.

In a step toward allaying those worries, Trump has begun signaling to Republican lawmakers that he wants to be their ally, not their burden.

"I would love to see the Republican Party and everybody get together and unify," he said after a strong showing in last week's Super Tuesday contests. "And when we unify, there's nobody, nobody that's going to beat us."

Trump has made initial overtures to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan....
Is that how it's going to be? Trump as a general election candidate will still be a thug, and will still be firing up crowds that include, in Friedman's words, "racists and fascists with a taste for violence," but because he'll be cooperating with party leaders -- who are reporters' friends -- the news coverage will say that Trump has been domesticated, and is safe now?

Well, it may not matter. I really don't believe he can figure out the right way to deploy all this for a general election audience. He's been lulled by the positive response to his ugly behavior among rage-filled GOP voters. I think he'll struggle to pivot -- or just not try very hard.


(Also see this follow-up post.)

5 comments:

AllieG said...

It's the same for Trump as it is for any performer. He may want to try his new material, but when he gets in front of those adoring crowds, they're going to want to hear his greatest hits.

Ten Bears said...

Having just perused the comments down-thread that thought just occurred: Trump is a performer; an entertainer, a clown.

Re the down-thread re downstream elections, I look forward to daily tying Trump our trust-funder punk who has never done a day's work in its life and doesn't even live in Oregon "representative" Greg Walden.

As to Trump's admiration of Mussolini, I would remind folks that in the end The People hung the bastard.

John Taylor said...

You can put lipstick on a pig but it's still a pig. GOP policies are still awful.

mlbxxxxxx said...

He has already started to try to butter-up the GOP politicians. Practically the first thing out of his mouth the other night in he victory speech/press conference/QVC segment was to praise all the Rs running for office down ticket some of whom "don't like me" and urge everyone to get out and support them. My bet is that his buttering of the politicians will be fairly successful.

Feud Turgidson said...

Thing is, the folks turning 60s and 70s these days, they aren't the same folks who've been faithfully watching BillO on Fox. All lot MORE of these folks are from the Sixties side of the Boomer wars: libs or mod-libs or even prog Boomers.

It goes some distance, IMO, to explain the why of the contrasting dynamics of the two sets of major party primaries this season. OTORH, Drumpf's invited back into major party political, uhm, 'respectability' pretty much the very demographic WF Buckley wanted notably rejected or else the white hegemony project wouldn't be quite so "principled". So, out with the Bircher bigots in the early 1960s, but in modern parlance, in with the "white nationalists", "constitutionalists" & "patriots" etc of today. The Drumpf Beer Hall rally model; works as great or greater for the gun numbskulls of American in 2016 as it did for the stabbed in the back white nationalist crowd of 1929 Germany.

Whereas OT other H, the old leftish Boomers currently sitting out the Dem primary assuming HRC is bound to be there to vote for in November, have essentially ceded much of the Dem primary process field to the younger Bernie Feelers, because, Hey, Bern's okay & Y Not let the younguns have their fun for now, plus maybe Bernie can at least convince them to stay in long enough to vote D in the fall.

There are after, all, limits to Drumpf's "media genius" - as in, I watched The Apprentice one time, and never again; and I was far from alone. Sure, some folks took longer, but ther are reasons that show's not leading the ratings and sailing the high TV seas anymore, and one is that TV is dying fast and the other is that everyone has her or his very own person expiry date for tolerating this prick.