I’ve argued before in this space that Trump’s appeal has less to do with issues than with attitude. His ethos — that he’s a winner, and that to win again, America needs to focus on winning — appeals to the fed-up contingent of all ideological stripes, holding together a coalition that encompasses plenty of moderates along with more conservative voters.
But even I am taken aback by the willingness of some well-informed observers to assume away, blithely, the entirety of Trump’s platform.
Consider Trump’s endorsement by the New York Post. Without batting an eye, the Post endorsed Trump while simultaneously calling for him to jettison his unorthodox views on trade and foreign policy, and even to abandon the idea of building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico — which is probably the signature issue of the Trump campaign. Plus they urged him to stop acting like a reality show contestant and start behaving in a more presidential manner. In other words: They endorsed Donald Trump on the assumption that he will turn into someone completely different from the man who has been running for president, while retaining whatever special charisma he has been blessed with that makes him a winner.
In part, this is surely bandwagoning, getting behind a winning horse before the race is quite over. But it may also reflect experience. The Post has observed Trump for decades. They may have good reason to assume that his views are highly malleable, and that what he cares about more than anything is winning — or, rather, being able to call whatever he has done lately a win.