Donald Trump: Shapeshifter

Over the last year, we’ve watched Donald Trump go after everything/everyone traditional conservatives hold dear. It wasn’t simply that he went after every other Republican presidential candidate with ugly smears, he railed against conservative media personalities, war heroes and the “rigged” primary system.

Beyond that, Trump has offended and alienated every constituency the Republicans need to win over in November, primarily immigrants, women and Hispanics. He even aligned himself with white supremacists.

Candidate Trump has espoused outrageous policies, like deporting all undocumented people, banning the immigration of all Muslims, starting a trade war with China, refusing to rule out the use of nuclear weapons against ISIS, pulling out of NATO and promising to be “unpredictable.” In the process, he inspired rage and violence.

But apparently that was all just Donald Trump playing “a part.” In a meeting with Republican National Committee members yesterday, his campaign operatives pretended that Donald Trump is a shapeshifter, saying that he is “starting to pivot toward presenting a more businesslike and presidential ‘persona.'”

Notice how these guys think about what it means to run for president. The former Donald Trump was “playing a part.” The new Trump will present a different “persona.” How appropriate that the guy they’re referring to finally rescued his dwindling fortunes by playing a “reality” TV star.

Personally I think this is all desperate blundering on the part of his campaign team to try to rescue the upcoming disaster of a convention in Cleveland this summer. The truth is that the real Donald Trump is actually a bombastic narcissist. If you doubt that, go back and read what Mark Bowden wrote about him in 1996 – long before he became a TV personality.

But even as the Donald attempts to don a presidential persona, this is going to make Mitt Romney’s etch-a-sketch moment look like child’s play. The people who love Trump feel that way about him precisely because of the “part” he’s been playing up until now. And the people he has offended aren’t likely to forget so quickly. If they do, his rants have all be captured on videotape and will be playing on an endless loop until November.

I’m sure that if Trump is eventually the nominee, much of the Republican establishment will try to pretend that they now support him because of this new presidential “persona.” But take a look at how his operatives suggested that they can change the electoral map.

Wiley focused on the electoral map, arguing that Trump has the unique ability to put states into play that long have voted for Democrats. He said part of Trump’s success in the primaries has been his appeal to Reagan Democrats and predicted that would open up opportunities in the fall that haven’t existed in the past.

Ahhh…those ubiquitous “Reagan Democrats” that Republicans love to discuss but don’t have a clue about. They are basically the angry white Republican males that have been supporting Trump all along. So yeah, he has those votes sewn up for November. The problem for Trump has always been that everyone else in the country rejects him. If his operatives had presented a plan for how to turn that around, they might have actually been on to something. But alas, that is a “persona” that Donald Trump is incapable of donning.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.