Donald Trump is living his word. His word often changes. But you can’t blame him for that. At the time he is giving his word, he means it.
And that is a politician’s definition of honesty.
Times change; circumstances change; life changes. And you can be a little baby (or news columnist) and whine about it, or you can be a politician and buckle down and do what people expect you to do, which is very little.
Paul Manafort, often described as the “ultimate D.C. insider” when he is not being described as a “veteran Washington fixer,” has been put in charge of the Trump campaign. The campaign recognized that Washington insiders have grown worried that Trump has forgotten just what role he is playing.
Trump started out as an anti-insider and an anti-fixer, so you can see why insider fixers have grown concerned.
Trump seems to have been carried away by the crowds who scream themselves silly when he attacks Washington and the way politics is conducted in this country.
The people who actually conduct the politics of Washington want to make sure Trump has not forgotten his most important role: to make sure nothing actually changes.
So Manafort went to Florida the other day to assure members of the Republican National Committee — the ultimate insiders and fixers — that they need not worry.
“That’s what’s important for you to understand,” Manafort told the group about Trump, “that he gets it and that the part he’s been playing is evolving.”
In other words, when Trump says he hates insiders and fixers, that’s just evolution. He doesn’t really hate them at all. It just depends on where he happens to be sitting.
“When he’s sitting in a room, he’s talking business,” Manafort told the group, a recording of which was obtained by NBC News. When “he’s talking politics in a private room, it’s a different persona,” Manafort continued. “When he’s out on the stage, when he’s talking about the kinds of things he’s talking about on the stump, he’s projecting an image that’s for that purpose.”
“He gets it,” Manafort said.
Trump may get it, but I am confused as all get-out. When Trump is in a room, that’s business. When he’s talking politics in a private room, that’s presumably politics. And when he’s on the stage and on the stump, don’t worry about it, because he knows he is just talking to yahoos.
Trump’s negatives, which are very high, will come down once Trump is no longer negative in his speeches, Manafort said. Hillary Clinton’s negatives, on the other hand, will not come down, because, according to one press account, they are “baked in.”
“The negatives will come down. The image is going to change. But Clinton is still going to be ‘Crooked Hillary,’ and that’s what you’re going to be seeing a lot more of,” Manafort promised the group.
Let us assume at this point that the audience members burst into wheezy cheers for this act of patriotism.
“He’s actually living his word, and that’s what the base that we are attracting to the Trump campaign is looking for,” Manafort said. “They’re looking for honesty, and they’re looking for consistency, and they’re looking for someone who does exactly what they say.”
But is that what Trump is really providing? Is it honesty and consistency?
And could any reasonable person expect Trump to do “exactly” what he says?
Let’s examine Trump’s most concrete (no pun intended) promise: that he would build an impenetrable wall on our border with Mexico.
I am willing to believe that Trump would try to build some kind of wall along some stretch of our border with Mexico, but then he probably would throw up his hands in frustration and blame Congress or the courts or Mexico or Democrats or some other evil forces blocking him.
After all, this huge wall would require the cooperation of Congress and environmentalists and immigration rights groups and all sorts of lawyers and agencies, and it would have to lead eventually to a favorable ruling by the Supreme Court.
How likely is that? And don’t forget that Trump promises he would somehow get Mexico to pay for it.
This is going to take more than Manafort has promised. This is going to take more than a “persona.”
This is going to take a magician.
Roger Simon is Politico’s chief political columnist. His new e-book, “Reckoning: Campaign 2012 and the Fight for the Soul of America,” can be found on Amazon.com, BN.com and iTunes. To find out more about Roger Simon and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.
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Photo: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally on Super Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio March 1, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk