After struggling for moths against my obsession with the current political campaign, I have decided to throw in the towel and yield to it. I am not proud of this weakness, and realize that after November 9th I shall have to go into rehab and cleanse myself of the lingering poisons in my system, but I am simply not strong enough to resist. Those who have come to this site in search of elevated philosophical argument may think of its more refined posts as my attempt to scale the heights of Aristotle’s Physics or Nicomachean Ethics and of these ruminations on Trump as my descent to the level of De Partibus Animalia.
The latest news, breaking this morning too late for Joe Scarborough to comment, is the resignation from the Trump campaign of the shady character Paul Manafort. For those of you not up to speed, this story in the Huffington Post will put you in the picture. Trump yesterday promoted to Campaign Chair a well-known Republican political operative named Kellyann Conway, and in a move that has plunged Republican insiders even deeper into despair, has brought in a genuinely creepy character named Steve Bannon who runs Breitbart News and is chummy with a collection of racists, fascists, and conspiracy nuts labeled the Alt-Right.
The very first result of Conway’s promotion was a scripted teleprompter speech by Trump in which he formally apologized for unspecified careless words that might have caused pain. Those of us counting on a Trump campaign collapse felt a chill in the heart at the thought that Trump might actually get his act together and make a run for the presidency, contrary to all evidence and probability.
I have given this matter a good deal of thought, much of it in the middle of the night, and here is my somewhat self-serving analysis of the situation, based, needless to say, on nothing remotely resembling evidence. I suspect Trump was moved to make these changes by two factors: First, his genuine discomfort with the conventional speeches Manafort was pressuring him to deliver, including the wooden endorsement of Paul Ryan, John McCain, and Kelly Ayotte [delivered in roughly the way that a ten year old boy, dragged next door by his father, apologizes to the neighbors for having ridden his bicycle over their garden]; and Second, his disastrous decline in the polls.
The “apology” was so unTrumpian that I would bet Conway got him to deliver it by promising him that it would translate into a poll bounce. But the polls that will be released in the next several days were all completed before the speech, and they will most likely show no improvement for Trump, and perhaps even a worsening of his already disastrous standing. I predict that Trump will look at those polls and, having roughly the patience and self-control of a four year old [not to disparage any four year olds out there], he will react with another barrage of outrageous tweets and random insults. If the Clinton campaign has the wit to sic Elizabeth Warren on him in this moment, which they undoubtedly do, he will be unable to control himself. Even if Ivanka returns from vacationing with Vladimir Putin’s girlfriend [no kidding] to calm him down, he is unlikely to be able to resist the temptation to “hit back,” as he likes to say.
We shall see. Meanwhile, I shall answer the call of the Clinton campaign and do data entry, while awaiting Bernie’s August 24th launch of his new organization, promisingly titled “Our Revolution.”