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Have You Ever Seen A More Cynical Political Pivot Than Donald Trump Trying To Avoid Electoral Disaster?

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Have You Ever Seen A More Cynical Political Pivot Than Donald Trump Trying To Avoid Electoral Disaster?

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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during a Hispanic Small Business Leaders round table meeting at the Trump Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., August 26, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Published with permission from AlterNet.

If, like me, you think that a President Trump would be (not to coin a phrase) a total disaster, Hillary Clinton’s widening lead in the polls gave you about five minutes to breathe easier, until Trump replaced his campaign chairman with honchos blunt enough to admit that his ugliness was killing him with undecided voters, and pushy enough to make him pretend to almost apologize for it.

Was last week a true turning point for Trump? Did it signal a transformation from the man-baby who won the Republican primaries to someone with the temperament to be president? In the word of the moment, is this the “pivot” that Clinton’s supporters have most feared?

There are more strata of cynicism in the idea of a pivot than layers of pastry in a mille-feuille.

Start with the presumption of two kinds of Americans. Some of them – political insiders, media junkies, savvy citizens – know the score. They’re hard-boiled enough to get that candidates can sometimes lie with impunity; that everything can come down to image and optics; that in an era of post-truth politics, narratives can matter more than facts.

The other Americans are the useful idiots whose gullibility is what pollsters measure. When a candidate pivots from one message in the primaries (e.g., Blacks are scary), to a contradictory message in the general (Blacks are suffering), or when a nominee torques from bullying (smearing a Gold Star mother, say) to sensitivity (I regret causing personal pain), his or her campaign calculates that the base and the undecideds will just roll with it. They’ll bend themselves into pretzels, believe the character swings, dissolve the flip-flops in the solvent of amnesia.

So when insiders speculate whether the Trump pivot has at long last arrived, what they’re really asking is whether Trump has the discipline to maintain the masquerade that he’s changed. If he doesn’t consistently act as though he can get his id under control, too many voters may conclude that the pathological liar and narcissist they saw in the primaries – whom the elite knows is the real Trump – is in fact the real Trump.

The cynicism of the pivot ploy came into sharp focus when Trump, under the tutelage of his new chieftains — Stephen Bannon and Kellyanne Conway —declared in Charlotte, N.C., “Sometimes, in the heat of debate and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that.”

If you saw him say that, you couldn’t mistake the meaning of the smirk on his face: “This is an act, people. I’m bluffing.” No wonder the crowd laughed at the preposterousness of it. “And believe it or not,” he continued, “I regret it.” Trump’s signature catchphrase is “believe me,” so when he says “believe it or not,” it’s a tell, a hostage video. “Or not” is the equivalent of blinking “I’m lying” in Morse code. The only disclaimer missing was putting air quotes around “regret.” No wonder his mea quasi culpa was met with even more laughter, and a Trump-Trump-Trump chant from the crowd; it was their way of saying they knew he was faking it.

Last Friday’s Morning Joe on MSNBC epitomized the media response to the Trump shakeup. The question on the table wasn’t whether Trump had truly changed; no one on the panel thought his pivot meant anything truthful about his temperament. Instead, it was all about performance, stagecraft, illusion – whether Trump’s new minders can make him stick to the new script, whether they can market it with a straight face, whether the audience will buy it. Joe Scarborough called Conway’s TV debut as campaign manager “the best pundit performance of the year.” “It was quite a performance,” agreed Andrea Mitchell, because “it didn’t have performance written all about it – it was natural.” Eugene Robinson thought Trump’s attempting a pivot would “if not gladden the hearts of worried Republicans, at least calm their night sweats.” Chris Cillizza wondered if Trump, a billionaire who managed to depict himself as a populist in the primaries, had already “damaged himself so badly, image-wise, that a change like this is not able to be sold to a skeptical electorate.” Brand maven Donnie Deutsch said no, it wouldn’t work, because “people are not stupid.” The press needs to stop setting the bar so low, “to stop giving him presidential points because he can read off a teleprompter and he’s not insulting anybody.”

Within hours of his Charlotte speech, a Clinton ad collected video of Trump being asked if he regretted taking shots at the Khans (“I don’t regret anything”); if he regretted denying that John McCain was a war hero (“I like not to regret anything”); if he regretted calling Mexicans rapists (“No, not at all); if he wanted to apologize for anything (“No, I don’t apologize”). Will it work? Trump’s tears may be crocodile contrition, but fact checking, even via video, sometimes can’t keep a good charlatan down.

Nor, maybe, will Trump’s message discipline stick any longer than after other reboots. Yesterday Conway tweeted that Trump “doesn’t hurl personal insults.” But during today’s Morning Joe, Trump took to Twitter to call Scarborough and co-host Mika Brzezinski “two clowns,” adding that she’s “a neurotic and not very bright mess.” So much for temperament transplants.

A political pivot is a con that wins wolf whistles from people who think they’re too smart to fall for it.  I wonder what it would take to motivate some connoisseurs of that fakery to volunteer a little time on the vice squad cleaning things up.

Photo: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during a Hispanic Small Business Leaders round table meeting at the Trump Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., August 26, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

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18 Comments

  1. bojimbo26 August 29, 2016

    `The Duck` just wants to get his finger on `The Button` to have an almighty orgasm .

    Reply
    1. ivory69690@yahoo.com August 29, 2016

      heck his hands are little enough to get the whole hand on and up his AZZ and get that almighty orgasm

  2. Mama Bear August 29, 2016

    A person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (who is also arguably a psychopath) has all sorts of ways to deceive. The bottom line, however, is that there is no treatment or cure for NPD and the person takes it to their grave. Donald Trump truly believes he is the smartest person in any room and he has many masks to pull out of his pocket to be whomever he thinks he needs to be. An NPD person has no real inner core, it is all make believe – and most importantly to remember is that an NPD person is a 5 year old inside having made the conscious decision that he really likes being a child because children are the center of every universe. Never forget that.

    Reply
    1. ivory69690@yahoo.com August 29, 2016

      PLEASE TAKE IT TO YOUR GRAVE DONNY DUMP SOON CANT HAPPEN SOON ENOUGH

    2. ivory69690@yahoo.com August 29, 2016

      his true and real mask is the one he pulls out of his AZZ with lumps of POS on it

    3. Insinnergy August 29, 2016

      Well put.

  3. ivory69690@yahoo.com August 29, 2016

    FACTS CHECK DONNY DUMP BRAIN DEAD FOLLOWERS >>He released his first TV ad of the general election which demonized immigrants and refugees and, according to independent fact-checkers ,AVERAGED ONE LIE ABOUT EVERY 7 SEVEN 7 SECONDS

    Reply
  4. ivory69690@yahoo.com August 29, 2016

    and ill bet his mark on any people that were black(B don’t rent to BLACK ) and wanted to rent an apartment from him and his hatting POS dad was BOLDER then what the ones sending emails that were marked classified to Hillary

    Reply
  5. Eleanore Whitaker August 29, 2016

    I think it’s kind of amusing. Trump thinks he can play his corporate gamesmanship games in politics and it will automatically return the results he is so accustomed to enjoying.

    No one is paying a single particle of attention to Trump except a tiny bunch of bitter, angry, raging, rejects from mostly southern and midwestern backwater towns.

    Reply
  6. Dominick Vila August 29, 2016

    Donald Trump will blame his impending defeat on cheating, fraud, and just about anything else, except for the real reason: his narcissism, immaturity, arrogance, irresponsibility, lack of civility, and overt hatred.

    Reply
    1. Paul Bass August 29, 2016

      Not to mention the GOP fostering of these attributes for decades!

    2. Mama Bear August 29, 2016

      That too is a hallmark of a narcissist. They never accept responsibility/blame for failure. It is never “my fault”. They resort to gaslighting – trying to make the other person think theyy are tghe crazy one.

  7. RED August 29, 2016

    Each day I am more disgusted with the ignorance and the rot in this country. These people around Trump, the handlers, the consultants, the advisers, the Con Party insiders, they know Trump is a sick moron, they absolutely know it!! And yet it matters not to them, the only thing that matters, THE ONLY THING is their selfishness, need for power, and greed! It’s f’ing disgusting!! Trump could ruin the country? Oh well, all that matters is me!! Trump could cause thousands if not millions misery? ME!! Trump could or is quite likely to start a war or violence based on his but hurt whiny ego? I’ll just suck up to him cause, ME. Trump might destroy humanity itself? You remember me, right? The one who this is all about. I know of course that some of these morons are truly ignorant and too frigging stupid to recognize how dumb and sick Trump is and that’s really tragic as well, that our country is full up of morons. And all of them should be prohibited from any position in this country in any kind of leadership. In fact we should probably replace the application question “have you ever been convicted of a felony” with “did you enable Trump to damage our country or in any way support the immoral scumbag?” If you answered yes to this question, it may not automatically deny you employment but really it probably will and probably should.

    Reply
    1. Insinnergy August 29, 2016

      You said it.
      Power and Greed.
      It’s systemic… and lauded. People deify the rich.

      Money is equated with virtue in America. Money means hard work, and boot straps, and discipline and the American Dream…

      Except that it hasn’t meant that for several decades, as those who inherit wealth now far outweigh those who actually moved from poor beginnings by creating it…

      And the America that used to be the most mobile society in the world (People per capita that move from the bottom quintile of earnings to the top, and vice versa) became the solid push towards a stratified class system that it is today… Where, if you’re born into poverty, chances are you’re stuck there… and if you’re born with a father that gives you political connections and 200 million dollars like Trump, you can f**k up nearly everything you touch, and still remain in the top 1% of the 1%.

      So does it surprise you that, at every level, there are large proportions of people prepared to do anything for it?

    2. Mary Lotempio August 30, 2016

      Well Said!

  8. Jmz Nesky August 30, 2016

    Reminds me of a bizarro Raygun.. Get’s his new mystique via teleprompter written by two shumcks who know what the word ‘con’ actually means.. It’s a farce and Brietbart and co. is turning the Turnup into their personal puppet. He’ll tolerate it until he realizes that he’s no longer the smartest dolt in the room then watch the real Turnup come back full blast. Until then comes a different Turnup hatching.

    Reply
    1. Mary Lotempio August 30, 2016

      By the way did anyone notice the hair took on a new more yellow look this past week?

      1. Jmz Nesky August 30, 2016

        Probably reached out to his illegal hair dresser again. She, never receiving any tip what-so-ever, has consistently told him that yellow is ‘in’. and he being the smartest one in the room concurs as he admires himself in his ever present hand mirror.

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