To start Friday off on a rather jarring note I turned on Morning Joe today only to hear Donny Deutsch doing some prognosicating regarding Donald Trump. Going from memory, at least until I can get an actual transcript, this was the gist of it:
I can’t believe I’m gonna say it out loud. I think Trump can win the whole thing. He’s so flexible. He can go to the left or right of Hillary on this issue or that… He’ set himself up so he can go either way on any issue and it’s not even a flip flop.
I’ll just start off here by saying that I’m definitely considering the source here. Deutsch isn’t exactly my go to guy for political analysis even though he’s a regular fixture on the show with Scarborough and Brzezinski. He’s a very successful businessman with a ready for camera appearance (and a new show on USA Network) but he really doesn’t seem to be drenched in the American Game of Thrones. Still, is he making a point here?
Getting past the absurd sounding phrase on the surface, it actually is pretty hard to accuse Trump of flip flopping. Why? Because aside from building a wall and taking care of veterans, Trump has taken both sides of pretty much every other issue at one point or another over his long career. That’s what’s confounding so many of his opponents: you just never know what the guy is going to say next.
Do you support position A or position B?
As I’ve always said, I support position A.
But last week you said B.
Yes, but last month I clearly said A, as I’ve always maintained.
He’s also been free to fire off opinions on subjects which would completely sink any traditonal conservative and continue to march on down the campaign highway relatively unscathed. Just recently he’s come out in favor of “transgender” bathroom sharing and raising taxes on the wealthy. Who else could possibly do that with an (R) after their name and win another contest?
Even if he didn’t intend it that way, Deutsch may have hit on something. There are some issues where conservatives simply come in second place in public opinion polls, particularly among persuadable voters in key swing states. (Or swing counties, if you’ve studied your copy of Going Red.) Sometimes the populist message is the one that gets voters up out of their seats. Does that make for a good, solid conservative? Obviously not, but by this point I think everyone has realized that Trump has never been cut from the cloth of the conservative faithful.
If you confront Trump or his supporters on any of these questions of inconsistency, they’re already shopping a new answer. You see, he’s been projecting an image. (AP)
Donald Trump’s chief lieutenants told skeptical Republican leaders Thursday that the GOP front-runner has been “projecting an image” so far in the 2016 primary season and “the part that he’s been playing is now evolving” in a way that will improve his standing among general election voters.
The message, delivered behind closed doors in a private briefing, is part of the campaign’s intensifying effort to convince party leaders Trump will moderate his tone in the coming months to help deliver big electoral gains this fall, despite his contentious ways.
Even as his team pressed Trump’s case, he raised fresh concern among some conservatives by speaking against North Carolina’s “bathroom law,” which directs transgender people to use the bathroom that matches the sex on their birth certificates. Trump also came out against the federal government’s plan to replace President Andrew Jackson with the civil-rights figure Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill.
Can anyone actually get away with this? I sort of hate myself for saying the words aloud, but we’ve all grown very accustomed to politicians promising the moon and then all too often either doing nothing about it or doing the opposite of what they promised on the campaign trail. All too often we simply shake our heads, collectively roll our eyes and say, well… they’re just a politician after all. While it sounds like the plot of a bad Hollywood production about elections, Trump seems to be ripping away the mask and just telling the public that this is exactly what he’s doing. Hey guys… I’m just playing a role here. I don’t really mean it so don’t hold it against me in the general election.
Assuming Trump does wind up as the nominee he’s going to be rolling out an entirely new line of attacks and positions against Clinton. By this point he’s probably counting on the fact that people will forget the seven different things he said on each issue during the primary and focus on what he says in August and September. And if anyone in the media is so crass as to remind him of it he’ll simply break out the “I was just playing my part” card. Could that really win an election?
It’s kind of terrifying to admit, but I’m not entirely sure anymore that it wouldn’t.