Our opinion: Rats climbing aboard a sinking ship
With him tanking in the polls, Donald Trump decided now is the time to shake up his organization and introduce some new faces.
But don't be surprised if those new faces continue his downward spiral into the history books.
Earlier this week, the world learned Trump's campaign manager, Paul Manafort, may have received more than $12 million from the former Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia after he was ousted in 2014 during a popular uprising. Manafort was demoted and one might be forgiven for thinking Trump would appoint someone relatively credible to manage his campaign going forward. But "unbelievable" is an adjective that has lost its meaning when used in reference to Donald Trump and his campaign. On Tuesday, he appointed Stephen Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News, as the "chief executive" of his campaign.
Most rational people were astounded by the choice. Even William Kristol, one of the neocon pundits responsible for the disintegration of the Middle East by advocating for the disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003, called Breitbart "right-wing, intolerant, mean-spirited news." (It might be interesting to note that Breitbart, upon learning Kristol was opposed to Trump's run for president, headlined an article about him "Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew.")
And Ben Shapiro, who left Breitbart a year ago, recently ranted that Bannon "turned Breitbart into Trump Pravda for his own personal gain ..."
Writing for the New York Times, Jonathan Martin, Jim Rutenberg and Maggie Haberman noted that Trump's recent staffing changes are "a defiant rejection of efforts by longtime Republican hands to wean him from the bombast and racially charged speech that helped propel him to the nomination but now threaten his candidacy by alienating the moderate voters who typically decide the presidency."
According to the New York Times, Kellyanne Conway, a veteran pollster and strategist who was already advising Trump, will become his campaign manager. Conway has spent the last three decades advising conservative men how best to win over women. "With all due respect, Kellyanne is very good at understanding Republican women. But working with candidates like that and trying to not make them look like cave men — that's a tough job," Katie Packer, told the Washington Post's Danielle Paquette. "She has created a niche where candidates can check a box and say, well, they've got a woman advising them."
The appointments of Bannon and Conway came rapidly on the heels of the news that Trump had hired Roger Ailes, the now-disgraced (alleged) serial abuser and former Fox News chairman, to advise him in advance of the Sept. 26 debate with Democratic contender Hillary Clinton. Let's just hope Trump doesn't take any advice from Ailes on how to treat women in the workplace and sticks to getting his advice from Conway.
Frank Rich, writing for New York Magazine, noted Ailes and Bannon "are both pugilists likely to pump his volume back up to the full Mussolini-Giuliani timbre. It may not make a difference come November, but I'd argue it's the only way for Trump to go."
But just because Trump's choices might seem self-defeating, Rich warns that Ailes is "brilliant and ruthless at what he does professionally: plotting and executing scorched-earth attacks on television."
Despite the under-handed brilliance of men such as Bannon and Ailes, Trump has his work cut out for him if he expects he can achieve the electoral votes necessary to assume the presidency in January.
"His hallucinatory improvisations, his fact-lite flights of insult, conspiracy theory, and rage are him, the essence of Trump," noted the New Yorker's David Remnick. "His supporters sense that, and they credit it as a form of integrity and genuineness."
The rest of America, those not hoodwinked into thinking his hubris translates into competence, are backing away from the sinking wreck that is the Trump campaign, watching in amazement from shore as his rats bail furiously, but, thankfully, in vain.
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