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Trump Campaign Dumpster Fire

GOP chairman Reince Priebus, hard at work (TFoxFoto/Shutterstock.com)

Look, even people who think Donald Trump has good ideas and will make America great again have to admit that their boy is his own worst enemy. He’s going to take the Republican Party down with him, too. From Politico:

While Trump had promised Priebus that he would call two dozen top GOP donors, when RNC chief of staff Katie Walsh recently presented Trump with a list of more than 20 donors, he called only three before stopping, according to two sources familiar with the situation. It’s unclear whether he resumed the donor calls later.

This is a big deal. Hillary Clinton is expected to raise over a billion dollars.

Talking Points Memo has more, in the wake of Trump’s disastrous new poll numbers:

But it’s not just specific proposals that are costing Trump general election support. It’s the whole way he goes about campaigning, or as Usher put it, his tendency to be “reactive” rather than exhibit message discipline.

“The biggest issue for him is not only is he reluctant to change the topic from ones that are weak for him, he doesn’t really care to change the topic, he would rather litigate everything,” Usher said.

His penchant for personal insults, tirades, and derogatory language never seemed to hurt him in the primary election. His polling numbers actually went up after he attacked Sen. John McCain’s record as a prisoner of war and after he hurled a whole litany of slurs at Fox News host Megyn Kelly, including one about “blood coming out of her wherever.”

Since claiming the top of the GOP ticket, Trump kicked off a similar cycle of controversy by launching a racially-tinged smear campaign against a federal judge. In this week’s Bloomberg poll, 55 percent of likely voters said Trump’s claims about the judge bothered them “a lot” and only 26 percent said they were bothered not at all by the claims.

“It’s not just that it bothers them, but that it bothers them a lot, so that’s actually higher than the 51 percent who were bothered by the Muslim ban,” Selzer said.

Trump’s gonna Trump, no matter what. No way that guy’s going to learn how to be a different person now. Josh Marshall is onto something about how Trump’s slide in the polls is entirely self-inflicted:

What’s most telling about this is that so little has been due to bad luck or news events out of Trump’s control. With the partial exception of the release of the Trump University documents, it’s been almost entirely from Trump himself. A month ago Republican elected officials were unenthusiastically but resolutely rallying around Trump. Since then they’ve slowly been reduced to a public and political version of a family dealing with a hopeless addict or a degenerate gambler. They keep saying, insisting he’ll change, only to have him provide more evidence he can’t, won’t and has no intention to. Their very indulgence seems to prompt more unbridled behavior.

The disgraceful way Trump handled the hours after the Orlando atrocity seems to have confirmed for many Republicans that Trump will never change or pivot or whatever other phrase we’re now using. It’s not an act. It’s him. How this couldn’t have been clear months ago is a topic for the psychology of denial and wishful thinking. But now it seems clear.


The question is how long this can last. Pretty much daily, major Republican leaders don’t just disagree with Trump but denounce him in pretty round terms, even as they remain at least nominal endorsers of his candidacy and accept him as the leader of their party. That is entirely unprecedented in modern American political history.

It’s incredible when you think about it for more than two seconds. If you’re a Republican, you wake up in the morning not knowing what your party’s presumptive presidential candidate is going to say, except that it’s likely to be inflammatory and crazy.

And it’s only June!

It’s always important to read Scott Adams’s blog, because he seems to understand the method behind Trump’s madness better than the rest of us. For example:

As I have said several times in this blog, Trump often uses confirmation bias in his influence. He creates a mental framework for us to view our world and then waits for future events to fill in the details.

For example:

1. Trump knew his “Crooked Hillary” nickname would be reinforced by a continuous trickle of new revelations about Clinton’s misdeeds. We will hear more about Clinton’s email scandal, and more about foreign money buying influence, for example. True or not, the allegations will fit the “crooked” label and reinforce it.

2. Trump’s “Lyin’ Ted” label was also a trap for confirmation bias. Every time you heard Cruz say something that you doubted, the Lyin’ Ted label jumped into your head.

3. Trump knew there would be more radical Islamic terror attacks either here or abroad before election day. Every attack makes Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban Muslim immigration from selected countries seem more reasonable and more prescient.

One of the reasons this form of persuasion is so effective is that it allows people to talk themselves into your point of view over time. People don’t like it when you try to change their minds in person, and almost everyone will resist such an attempt. But if people believe they are evolving in their own thinking – totally independently – they give themselves permission to change.

But Trump’s poll numbers are going to have to pick up to make this theory plausible. Who knows, maybe it will happen. If, as a Trump-hating friend of mine suggested the other day, ISIS will launch a bloody fall campaign of terrorism that will turn the American people to Trump, well, all bets are off.

Still, Trump supporters need to step out of the hive and take a good look at how their candidate is sabotaging his own campaign, and making it more likely that Hillary Clinton will be elected. As soon as I post this, I’ll have readers blaming me for aiding and abetting Hillary’s campaign by criticizing Trump. That’s exactly the kind of mindset that causes Trump never to check himself.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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