Can the Trump campaign reboot and win?
Perhaps it isn't time to shelve that #NeverTrump movement yet.
Rumors abound about why Corey Lewandowski was fired from Donald Trump's campaign, but now that we're focused on the personnel issues in Trump's 2016 run, rather than the policy issues, there may be some major problems in the closet.
Some reports claim that Lewandowski "allegedly tried to shop negative stories about Ivanka [Trump's] husband, New York Observer owner and campaign confidante Jared Kushner." If true, it's clearly an unworkable situation for The Donald, since his loyalties on that front are unquestionable. Although the question of why Lewandowski was allegedly up to that behavior – if indeed he was – is the one requiring an answer.
Those unknown "sources" in the Trump campaign said that after Lewandowski's dismissal, "they were also frustrated that Lewandowski seemed to encourage Trump's worst behavior, including his attempts to delegitimize the Indiana-born federal judge presiding over [sic] [the] Trump University [sic] [lawsuits] by describing him as a 'Mexican.'"
In addition, apparently, "now with Trump's poll numbers falling well behind Hillary Clinton's, Lewandowski lost his bulwark – and Trump was finally willing to fire him."
Herein lies the problem. If that biased polling campaign underway last week using massive oversampling of liberals in any way fooled Trump and his advisers, they really are stupid. In fact, Trump's valid concerns about the judicial system, as well as other supposedly controversial views aired in public, are what attracts widespread public support to him. The moment Trump goes mainstream up against Hillary Clinton's juggernaut, he is dead in the water.
The entire portion of the political spectrum from the Reagan Democrats through the Tea Party is more cynical about political flim-flam this cycle then ever before, and they uniformly despise the GOP establishment and those polished Republicans. They are looking for bold authenticity. Deny them this, and they will sit at home, or even cross the aisle to vote for Clinton just to shove that poker farther into the Republican eye.
Lewandowski's slogan, "Let Trump be Trump," was the winning approach, and provided he was not acting as a conduit for the truly more wacko components of the political spectrum (see, e.g., LGBTQ activists), why mess with a winning formula? The optics of the firing after Lewandowski was disgracefully smeared by the Breitbart reporter for a faux assault are also terrible, as evident by the crowing about Lewandowski's removal today by the former Breitbart "journalists" themselves.
The real slide apparently started with the hiring of Paul Manafort as Trump's political consultant, who eventually became the campaign chairman and chief strategist. Now that many commentators are looking behind the Trump campaign curtain, Manafort's hiring and winning a power struggle with Lewandowski look terrible – and may come back to haunt Trump once the Clinton team starts firing on all cylinders in attack ads during the final weeks of the campaign.
Lewandowski's background is varied, to say the least, and clearly not pristine. But Manafort's is downright troubling. His long-term linkage to some repugnant foreign entities, including national security threats such as Pakistan's intelligence service, among others, will attract the Clinton campaign's undivided attention at some point. Manafort's shady past effectively negates any moral high ground the Trump campaign had over Clinton – certainly on the Huma Abedin file (i.e., just exchange one set of Islamic extremist connections for another), and potentially extending to a negation of the Benghazi incident.
Partisans may try to hand-wave these problems under the table, but for the Silent Majority, the moral clarity between Trump and Clinton was severely muddied by Manafort's presence, and his ultimate apparent victory over Lewandowski.
On Bill O'Reilly's show Monday night, Trump said the following about the day's events:
We ran a small, beautiful, well-unified campaign ... It worked very well in the primaries ... But we're going to go a little bit of a different route from this point forward. A little different style.
If that style involves a Trump who tones it down on economic and national security issues, particularly those appealing to the broad nationalist voter base, Clinton will run away in a landslide. If Trump changed his campaign – ignoring the "dance with the one that brought you" rule – because of faulty polling numbers, then all hope is lost in the search for intelligent life among either establishment or "outsider" Republicans.
Oh, well. Darwinian rules are on. Time will tell whether Trump's decision was correct or if he climbed into bed with the wrong team and alienated his loyalists. If the news from mid-April is correct that former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper is now giving political advice to Sheldon Adelson on how to win elections, and since Adelson is backing Trump's campaign, perhaps the long descent to electoral failure for the GOP presidential campaign really is written in stone. If these are your advisers for Trump 2016, consider the race lost, and think about hoisting the #NeverTrump flag again.
But wait...some #NeverTrumpers have had previous – and utterly absurd – love-ins over Harper that could induce gagging for their uncritical press release-like propaganda, which only deepens the level of slop on the right.
Politics should be survival of the fittest, and as of the end of day on June 20, 2016, the conservative movement appears to be on shaky ground. The best advice for Trump at this point is to clean house entirely.
Confusion reigns, and the decades-long rot in the conservative movement continues to resurface. Trump was supposed to be the one for a fresh start. Perhaps that was too much to hope for, and the best remedy is a quick death and subsequent regrouping once the old garbage has been disposed of. If we can't get to this point quickly and cleanly, many true conservatives will act out of spite at the incompetence and place their mark in the "D" column come November. For those who think this won't happen, I introduce Exhibit A – the Canadian federal election of October 2015. Mess with the base, and the base will mess with you tenfold in return.
The social conservatives have already left the building, and many others on the right are not far behind.