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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Kellyanne Conway has the hardest job in American politics today, perhaps an impossible one.

She will attempt to temper Donald Trump. Which means reining in his penchant to retaliate for each perceived slight and to escalate any dispute. Trump needs to appear kinder, humbler and more deferential toward a crucial voting bloc — women.

Conway, who replaces Paul Manafort as the honcho of Trump’s campaign, already seems to have gotten to work. On Thursday, Trump issued a public mea culpa for all the “personal pain” he has caused with his vitriolic rhetoric. Conway insists the apology was Trump’s idea, not hers.

The longtime pollster’s new role in Trump’s campaign calls to mind a well-worn adage: It falls to a woman to clean up the mess that men have made.

The 2016 campaign season is shaping up to be the most misogynistic political season ever. Contrary to what the supposedly chastened Donald says, we’re likely to hear more sexist insults, especially if he continues to slide in the polls. His anger and self-regard are too hard to restrain.

Perhaps it’s the price American women have to pay to reach the pinnacle of American politics, but it’s outrageous that it should be this way: that the election in which gender equality comes to fruition in American politics is also one distinguished by the regression of one party and candidate to gross contempt for women.

This is the price of female advancement. Some will be made to pay. Some, like Conway, will try to repair the damage.

Ironically, her new position as Trump’s campaign manager is yet another first for women. As Gender Watch noted, Conway is the first female campaign manager to serve a GOP presidential contender. She is only the fourth woman to lead any major party’s quest for the White House.

Yet this achievement comes with an asterisk. Some observers speculate she is less the boss of the campaign in a traditional sense than she is a high-profile handler with the job of keeping Trump in check.

Conway’s decades of pollster experience studying women voters has prepped her well. She’s been a regular for years on cable TV. But her resume includes a sorry list of politicians, such as Missouri’s Todd Akin. Remember him? His run for the U.S. Senate imploded during an interview when he tried to discuss abortion and wound up making the case that something he termed “legitimate rape” rarely gets a victim pregnant.

She’s also worked with Ted Cruz, Newt Gingrich and Dan Quayle.

Whatever Conway manages to do for Trump, who at this point seems destined for defeat, may turn out to be a favor for the Republican National Committee. If she can keep Trump on a leash, she might be able to prevent more damage to the GOP’s image among women voters.

About 10 years ago, Conway paired up with a well-known Democratic pollster, Celinda Lake, to write a book, “What Women Really Want: How American Women Are Quietly Erasing Political, Racial, Class and Religious Lines to Change the Way We Live.”

The lengthy title aptly sums up the book’s thesis. It rejoiced in the many ways that women are forming alliances, arguing that “a newly defined, united power base among women is reshaping the state of our nation much more than the two-sided politics of Left and Right.”

It’s a lovely vision, one that would please many women voters. Maybe Conway’s time saddled up alongside Trump — who is the antithesis of such collaboration — will persuade her to revert to more research for a sequel.

She, like women across America, will survive this campaign season and go on to better days (and candidates) ahead.

Mary Sanchez is an opinion-page columnist for The Kansas City Star. Readers may write to her at: Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 64108-1413, or via e-mail at

Photo: Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway (L) and Paul Manafort, staff of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, speak during a round table discussion on security at Trump Tower in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

If Boss Trump is headed for defeat, he's getting his revenge early. His revenge upon his deluded supporters and the people they love, that is. Trump's re-election campaign now consists mainly of what epidemiologists call "super-spreader" events: large-scale rallies of unmasked, non-socially distanced Trumpists yelling in each other's faces while the Big Man emits a non-stop barrage of falsehoods, exaggerations, and barefaced lies.

Let me put it this way: If, say, the Rolling Stones decided to put on free concerts at airports around the country, they'd likely end up being taken into custody and deported as undesirable aliens. Of course, they'd also draw far bigger crowds than Trump, but that's not the point. The point is that Trump's actions are reckless and immoral; the peacetime equivalent of war crimes.

"Covid, covid, covid, covid, covid," he hollers. Trump claims that the United States is "turning the corner" on the pandemic, and that the accursed news media will quit reporting Covid-19 fatalities come November 4. He claims that health officials are motivated by greed because "doctors get more money and hospitals get more money" if they report that the virus was the cause of death.

Surveys have shown that more than a thousand physicians and nurses have died fighting the disease nationwide.

As ever, what he accuses others of doing is an excellent guide to the question: What would Trump do? Answer: he'd steal the silver dollars off a Covid victim's eyes and demand an investigation of Joe Biden

According to the Washington Post, the Trump campaign organization signed an agreement with officials in Duluth, Minnesota to limit attendance at a September 30 fly-in rally, in accordance with public health guidelines. Hours before the event, it became clear that no effort was being made to honor the agreement; some 2500 Trump supporters bunched up without masks on the tarmac, ten times the agreed limit.

Health Department officials' protests were simply ignored. Three days later, Trump himself was taken to Walter Reed Hospital by helicopter. Three weeks after that, the following headline appeared in the Duluth News-Tribune: "St. Louis County sees another record-breaking week of COVID-19 cases."

Any questions?

The Trump Circus subsequently performed in Janesville and Waukesha, Wisconsin in the midst of a record-setting pandemic outbreak there. "It took us 7 and a half months to reach our first 100,000 cases, & only 36 days to reach our second," the Wisconsin Department of Health tweeted. "In just two short months, the 7-day average of new confirmed cases has risen 405%."

But the show must go on. Trump regaled his Janesville audience with a veritable torrent of lies. The New York Times did a thorough fact-check of his October 17 speech. Reporters documented 130 false statements during Trump's 87 minutes onstage. Nearly three-quarters of his factual claims were untrue. The most egregious concerned Covid-19, probably because the disease represents his single greatest failure and most damaging political liability.

Another question: Does Trump count upon his supporters' invincible ignorance or simply share it? I fear it's a little of both. In Janesville, Trump made this absurd claim two minutes into his harangue: "When you look at our numbers compared to what's going on in Europe and other places," he said "we're doing well."

Any regular newspaper reader knows that this is simply nonsense. As the Times reports, "America has more cases and deaths per capita than any major country in Europe but Spain and Belgium. The United States has just 4 percent of the world's population but accounts for almost a quarter of the global deaths from Covid-19."

Germany, to choose the most striking comparison, has suffered only 122 deaths per million of its population, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States has recorded more than five times as many: 686 per million. Neighboring Canada, meanwhile, is at 264 per million. Several Asian countries, have handled the pandemic even better.

It's a matter of capable leadership and public cooperation.

No wonder Trump appears to have succumbed to a case of dictator envy. "COVID, COVID, COVID is being used by [the 'Fake News' media] in total coordination" he tweeted the other day "in order to change our great early election numbers. Should be an election law violation!"

Yeah, well they all report the same World Series scores too. Furthermore, if Trump had good election numbers, he wouldn't whine so much. Has there ever been a bigger crybaby in the White House?

(In related news, Vladimir Putin has issued a mandatory mask mandate after a surge in Russian Covid infections. Go figure.)

Meanwhile, the rallies go on; a bizarre spectacle people treat as if it's normal. Trump has become Covid-19's Typhoid Mary, an Irish cook who unwittingly infected 53 people back in 1906.

But unlike Mary, he should know better. If anybody should be locked up, as his rapt admirers chant, it's the Super-Spreader in Chief.