Donald J. Trump has some advice for panicked Republicans in Washington who are melting down over his most incendiary statements: Man up.See what he's doing? After his party coalesced around him and everyone urged him to be "presidential," he ran the risk of starting to look almost like an ordinary politician. But people hate ordinary politicians. What got Trump this far was not being an ordinary politician. So he did something very unpresidential, and he kept doing it for days, and now establishment politicians in his own party are chastising him. Mission accomplished: He's the bad boy again.
“Politicians are so politically correct anymore, they can’t breathe,” Mr. Trump said in an interview Tuesday afternoon as fellow Republicans forcefully protested his ethnically charged criticism of a federal judge overseeing a lawsuit against the defunct Trump University.
“The people are tired of this political correctness when things are said that are totally fine,” he said during an interlude in a day of exceptional stress in the Trump campaign. “It is out of control. It is gridlock with their mouths.”
... “I disagree with a lot of things I’ve watched in politics over the years, that’s why I’m running,” Mr. Trump said over a meatball lunch he barely touched in the restaurant of Trump Tower. “And that may make me less popular with politicians. But I have to be honest. I didn’t get there by doing it the way a lot of these people do it.”
I'm going to stop here and say that this might not work as well in the general election as it did in the primaries, because he has to win over an electorate that's not composed primary of older white rage junkies. But it's a strategy, and it's working as planned. The Curiel attacks made Trump the defiant maverick again.
He's going to do it again next week, almost certainly in a way that sets off fresh handwringing within his party:
Donald Trump’s team is hunkering down to draft the charge sheet the presumptive GOP nominee will unveil against Hillary Clinton on Monday...."It can’t be the musings, whims and wannabes of the conspiracy illuminati"? Of course it can. Trump will probably use some GOP-establishment attacks (which are worthy of a few Pinocchios themselves), but he's also going to attack the Clintons with scurrilous and implausible Ed Klein gutter gossip. That's going to send the party to the fainting couch again. And then he'll get to say he's being brave and fearless and "poltically incorrect" once more.
But many Republicans worry that the former reality TV star’s penchant for focusing on the Clintons’ personal lives and scandals of years past -- he declared them “fair game” months ago as he bulldozed to the finish line of a Republican primary -- could undermine the more disciplined case party leaders have been making against Clinton for a year -- that the Democrat’s email controversy and actions in Benghazi show she is too irresponsible to be commander in chief.
... Trump’s promise to deliver a speech about “all the things that have taken place with the Clintons,” never mind a yearlong campaign replete with impolitic, off-the-cuff statements, unnerves some in the establishment.
“It needs to be credible. He can’t give a ‘four Pinocchios’ tin-foil hat speech,” said Bruce Haynes, a GOP strategist in Washington. “If he’s going to disqualify her, the evidence that supports his case has to be legitimate. It can’t be the musings, whims and wannabes of the conspiracy illuminati....”
I'll say it again: This really might fail in November. But if general election voters want an anti-politician, someone who fills real politicians with a sense of dread, Trump will continue to oblige.