Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Donald Trump stirred up a lot of anger last week, but Bloomberg's Margaret Carlson tells us that by Sunday he was making nice. The conventional wisdom is that Trump has to start dialing down the unpleasantness as he focuses on the general election -- but isn't unpleasantness precisely what his supporters want?
For months, Donald Trump started his events with a 20-minute rundown of the polls. On Sunday, he led off with something different.

He reminisced about the violence at his rallies, and said he hoped that peace would be restored. “We had some, let’s be nice, let’s call them protesters,” he said, recalling the rally in Chicago on March 11 that was canceled as a protest erupted. “And we had had a decision to make. We had to make this decision. We want peace, we want happiness, we want everyone to go home really happy, really peaceful, so we said, ‘you know what we’ll do, we’ll postpone it,’ and it was a really wise decision.”

... There was little chance of an outbreak of hostilities at his event on Sunday in Boca Raton, Florida.... Just in case, upon entering, security took “anything hard that could be thrown,” including thousands of umbrellas (it was cloudy) and water bottles.

... As night fell in Boca, Trump made a dramatic entrance.... A few minutes later, he offered an olive branch of sorts in the form of a linguistic change, asking the audience to call protesters “disruptors.”

... Trump congratulates himself for never using a teleprompter, but his performances are all the same. There’s China and the trade deficit, how much better he is than Hillary Clinton, how bad President Barack Obama is, how he’s not owned by anyone since he’s paying for the microphone....
But there was no violence, no turbulence, no Trump getting chesty as other people commit violent acts on his behalf.

And how'd that go over, according to Carlson?
Surprisingly, hordes of people depart the love-in about a half hour in. Maybe it’s the traffic. Or maybe they’ve heard it all before. Or maybe they’re disappointed. They hoped to be part of that other Trump movement. They want to see him make war (enough at least to make the news), not love.
I'm sure that's right. There's nothing surprising about it at all.

See, this is why Trump can't simply become a tame, domesticated general-election candidate: He'd be boring. He'd be depriving his base of what it wants from him. (The media, too -- if he's like this all through September and October, sooner or later even cable news will stop giving him saturation coverage.) If he civilizes himself, he'll be just like every other politician.

Notice that this rally didn't make any news. I think it's far more likely that Trump will realize that he can't stop pushing people's buttons because his TV coverage will suffer as a result. So maybe he'll make an effort not to incite any more riots -- but he'll be a goon in some other way. He's simply not going to get the attention he craves if he behaves.


D. Hussein said...

It's like the time on the Simpsons when Marge protested against the violence in Itchy and Scratchy and got the studio to clean it up. The kids stopped watching and rediscovered the joys of playing outdoors. Maybe the disappointed Trumpsters will rediscover the joys of cooking meth and torturing small animals.

retiredeng said...

What are the odds this "peacefulness" will continue? Trump is like a toddler that gets attention with public tantrums. Eventually the "look at me" tactic will become irresistible and he'll be back to inciting violence again. It's a long time until the convention and an even longer time if he wins the nomination. A peaceful Trump is boring.

Unknown said...

Now that his promise to pay the legal fees of his rally goons has been exposed as a lie, he needs to focus the mob on something else quickly.

Feud Turgidson said...

I think he won't have all that much of a problem going nice-nice because the default to winning the general is he owns his very own major political party to operate as a for-Donald's Profit business. Not having to do the shitty job he's technically been nominated to run for he'll have little difficulty reconciling as a platinum lining with gold inlay.

Rand Careaga said...

Speaking of pivots, Steve, are we over our Marco Rubio panic (he'll crush Clinton!) of several weeks ago and ready to move on to [Kasich/Cruz/Trump]'ll crush Clinton yet?

Steve M. said...

In a different year (something like 2000, with much less societal anxiety), I think Rubio could have been a strong candidate. An empty suit did really well that year. Though you probably need a touch of swagger (Obama) or at least insolence (Bush), and Rubio has neither.

Kasich would be a strong general election candidate -- I run into a disturbing number of Democrats who like him. But he's won his last primary. Cruz is weak and Trump is weaker. I'm not worried.

D. Hussein said...

I like Charlie Pierce's description of Rubio: a bag of feathers.

D. Hussein said...

Steve M., I never thought I'd hear you say you're not worried. You're always worried, even when I'm not, and I'm Jewish.

I'm encouraged by this turn of events.

Ten Bears said...

I'm not worried about the election. Clinton/Wasserman-Shultz has it in the bag. I'm worried about after the election.

biz5th said...

There's still plenty to worry about in a general election. The press hates Clinton and a shocking number of people don't think a woman should be President. Covering Trump will be more fun than covering Clinton, so the free media will continue.

For Trump, every issue is negotiable except the racism and nativsm, and he talks about income inequality in a more visceral way than any Democrat.

If he says Obamacare is okay with a few tweaks, Social Security is untouchable, and his focus is on bringing back jobs, he can do well in the general election.

The big question is whether he can ditch - or at least repress - the fascist tendencies. If he can, he will be a formidable candidate.

CWolf said...

Trump dialing it down???
What a Squish.