I suspect you’ve read pundits who have suggested that once Donald Trump secures the Republican nomination he’ll do the proverbial pivot and become a more substantial candidate. A lot of this is based on his expertise in playing the media game. But the truth is, he’s very good at playing the media “shock” game – the kind that wins ratings with things like “reality TV shows.” But when it comes to actually being serious and thoughtful…not so much.
If ever there was a moment when Trump should have made the kind of pivot folks talk about, it was when he sat down with the editorial board of the Washington Post. He had to know that they would go after him if he failed to perform. And yet he simply repeated all the same bluster we’ve been hearing from him for months. Here is how the editors summed up that meeting.
As Donald Trump observed during a visit to The Post on Monday, we have been critical of his candidacy, so give him credit for agreeing to sit down with us and answer questions for more than an hour. Unfortunately, the visit provided no reassurance regarding Mr. Trump’s fitness for the presidency. “I’m not a radical person,” he told us as he was leaving. But his answers left little doubt how radical a risk the nation would be taking in entrusting the White House to him.
Then they give some examples:
There was, first, a breezy willingness to ignore facts and evidence. Are there racial disparities in law enforcement? “I’ve read where there are and I’ve read where there aren’t,” Mr. Trump said. “I mean, I’ve read both. And, you know, I have no opinion on that.” Global warming? “I am not a great believer in man-made climate change,” he said.
In that, Mr. Trump is not different from many Republican politicians these days. But no one can match the chasm between his expansive goals and the absence of proposals to achieve them. He would remake the nation’s libel laws, but how, given Supreme Court jurisprudence on the First Amendment? “I’d have to get my lawyers in to tell you,” he said. How could he implement a ban on noncitizen Muslims entering the country? “Well look, there’s many exceptions,” he said. “There’s many — everything, you’re going to go through a process.”
One exchange in particular is making the rounds on social media this morning.
RYAN: You [MUFFLED] mentioned a few minutes earlier here that you would knock ISIS. You’ve mentioned it many times. You’ve also mentioned the risk of putting American troop in a danger area. If you could substantially reduce the risk of harm to ground troops, would you use a battlefield nuclear weapon to take out ISIS?
TRUMP: I don’t want to use, I don’t want to start the process of nuclear. Remember the one thing that everybody has said, I’m a counterpuncher. Rubio hit me. Bush hit me. When I said low energy, he’s a low-energy individual, he hit me first. I spent, by the way he spent 18 million dollars’ worth of negative ads on me. That’s putting [MUFFLED]…
RYAN: This is about ISIS. You would not use a tactical nuclear weapon against ISIS?
TRUMP: I’ll tell you one thing, this is a very good looking group of people here. Could I just go around so I know who the hell I’m talking to?
Donald Trump is not an incredibly savvy media player. He’s a narcissistic one-trick pony. In other words, he knows how to “shock and awe,” but is completely clueless when it comes to intelligent adult conversation.
I am aware of the fact that his style is attractive to a certain segment of the population right now and that those folks will vote for him no matter what he says/does. But on a morning when the news is all about the latest terrorist attacks in Brussels and the leading contender for the GOP nomination is a clueless narcissist, its not surprising that a lot of Republicans are embarrassed. They have every reason to be.